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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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May 16, 2022

Summertime is just around the corner, which means now is the perfect time of year for agency owners like us to take stock of where we’re at now and where we want to be sitting by the end of the year. How can we get a clear picture of how 2022 is stacking up against 2021? By taking a close look at the trends that have, and will continue, to affect our industry as a whole.

 

On this week’s solocast episode of Build a Better Agency, we’re taking a look at the marketing trends that have shaped the first part of the year so we can mitigate the bad, take advantage of the good, and come into the second half of 2022 stronger than ever. As the title suggests, this discussion is being split into two parts — so be sure to keep an eye out for Part 2 during our next solocast!

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.

marketing trends

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Which marketing trends are in Drew’s crosshairs — and why
  • How 2022 stacks up against 2021 so far
  • Why so many agencies are feeling the pinch more this year than last
  • The metrics agency owners aren’t paying enough attention to
  • How those metrics can help you add 5% profit to your bottom line this year
  • Business development opportunities that you don’t want to miss out on — and how to make sure you don’t
  • How client expectations have changed in the past few years
May 9, 2022

As agency owners, the work environments we create are a direct reflection of our leadership styles. In a trust-led environment, our people should feel safe to speak up, take risks, and take ownership of the work they produce. Trust is the cornerstone for strong communication, creativity, and the innovation that fuels our business. So, what happens when trust isn’t part of the equation?

Our guest for this episode of Build a Better Agency, Sue Dyer, is an expert on all things leadership. She wrote the book on trusted leadership (literally) and has seen firsthand how teams and even entire agencies tend to fall apart when the people at the helm aren’t leading with trust.

During our conversation, Sue and I unpack what it means to be a trusted leader, how agency owners can determine their leadership style, and what it takes to build successful organizations based on trust.

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.

Agency Leaders

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What it means to be a trusted agency leader
  • Why trust is the cornerstone of success for any business
  • How to create a high-trust environment at your agency
  • Ways to help new team members adapt to a trusted environment
  • Why “fear-led” environments have wiped out so many businesses
  • How to determine whether or not you are a trusted leader
  • What to do in order to start becoming a trusted leader
May 2, 2022

Whether we realize it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) has already impacted countless aspects of our everyday lives. And as the technology we rely on continues to adapt and change, those changes will inevitably shape the future of our businesses, our industry, and our society. As agency owners, it’s our job to stay ahead of those changes — even if the thought of an AI-driven agency is, understandably, a little intimidating.

Our guest on this episode of Build a Better Agency, Paul Roetzer, is not only an expert on all things AI, but he’s also someone who is dedicated to helping agency owners and other industry professionals. Paul teaches those agency owners and industry professionals how to pilot and scale AI technology so they can use it to drive efficiency, growth, and creativity for their business.

During our enlightening conversation, Paul demystifies the fascinating realities of artificial intelligence by walking us through what it really is, how AI agency tools can help make us better at our jobs, and why shaping the future of marketing starts with understanding how to use AI platforms, programs, and services responsibly.

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.

leveraging artificial intelligence

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How artificial intelligence will — and already is — shaping the future of agency tools
  • Why AI is NOT here to take your job
  • Where you’re already seeing AI in your everyday life, and where you WILL see it in marketing in the marketing world
  • What AI technology can do to help you make your agency smarter right now
  • Why Paul says that you don’t need to go shopping for AI tools — and what to do instead
  • How AI agency tools can be used to drive efficiency and growth for your business
  • What Paul believes a “Next Gen” agency looks like — and how to become one
Apr 25, 2022

As agency partners, we have access to an insane amount of backend data and insights into our clients’ business. Now what? How can we use all of that data to build momentum in our clients’ revenue pipelines and translate those insights for them so that they can make the case when they’re at the table with the decision-makers on their team?

On this episode of Build a Better Agency, we’re joined by CRM and sales expert Eric Stockton, VP of Demand Generation at SharpSpring. Eric gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the industry-wide shift in focus from outbound marketing to inbound lead generation. We talk about what this means for agencies and how we can help our clients adjust to a “quality over quantity” mindset — without freaking them out.

Eric is a past keynote speaker at a series of marketing-related trade shows, including MarketingSherpa events, eCommerce Retail Executive Summit, Email Summit, B2B Demand Generation Summit, ContentBiz, MarketingExperiements virtual events, and Affiliate Summit.

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.

Inbound Leads

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why the industry is shifting its focus from outbound to inbound leads — and what that means for agencies
  • How to help our clients make that shift without freaking out
  • Why focusing on quality over quantity does NOT mean you’ll be getting fewer leads
  • What Eric means when he tells his clients to focus on their “North Star” metrics
  • Whether or not the “quality game” is truly sustainable
  • Ways we as agency partners can help clients divorce themselves from metrics they don’t — or shouldn’t — care about
Apr 18, 2022

How does your agency show up in the world? As agency owners, we have a responsibility to know what’s going on — with our business, our employees, and our clients. There’s a lot going on in the world, and understanding how these things affect the worldviews of others in our space is the first step in deepening our agency relationships, elevating our business, and making sure we go beyond the “one-word” values our industry seems to be riddled with.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Karley Cunningham of Big Bold Brand joins me to talk about ways agencies can actually implement their mission, vision, and values into their processes in order to leverage them as strategic branding tools. She also offers expert insights into identifying the worldviews of the audiences who matter most to you, knowing when to take a stance on the important issues, and what to do when your worldviews no longer align with those of your clients.

Brand Strategist and Business Growth Accelerator Karley Cunningham takes businesses from overcrowded, competitive spaces out into blue ocean territory where they can confidently stand out and thrive as brand leaders in their sector.

Having built three successful businesses, Karley knows what it takes to start, develop and lead a company that delivers results. Her entrepreneurial success story is featured in the awarded book: The Widest Net by Pamela Slim. In addition, she’s a sought-after mentor and speaker for national and international business organizations and the host of The Made Possible Podcast.

Believing deeply in the practice of givers gain, she is well-known and networked and rarely goes a day without making a referral or connection. As a former pro athlete, Karley is performance-driven. An avid mountain athlete, she is a two-time finisher of the BC Bike Race, a seven-day, 325 km mountain bike stage race, and is always looking out for her next trail running adventure. When not focusing on the business or expanding her network, she can be found somewhere in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest with her wife and dog in their 4×4.

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.

Agency Relationships

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to proactively influence the way your agency shows up in the world
  • Why it’s important to understand our client’s worldviews, how they align with our own, and what that means for our business
  • Ways to implement your mission, vision, and values as strategic branding tools
  • How to accelerate your business, improve employee retention, and deepen client relationships by taking your mission, vision, and values “off of the page”
  • When it’s important to take a stance on important issues, and how to start those conversions with clients
  • What your consumers want to know about where you stand
  • How to identify and align the worldviews of the audiences who matter most to you
Apr 11, 2022

One of the unfortunate truths of our business is that as agency owners, we are almost never in the driver’s seat when it comes to sales engagements. At the end of the day, we have no way to inspire, incent, cajole, bribe, or trick someone into buying agency services until they have a genuine need for them. But, with so much of our focus centered around not making an ask at the wrong time, it’s no surprise that so many of us are left with the same question — when CAN we sell?

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, we’re going to answer that question in a few different ways. First, we’re going to talk about what the “right time” to sell looks like not only for our prospects but also for existing clients and former clients. We’re also going to explore ways we as agency owners can accelerate the sales process (because yes, that’s a thing we can do), provide value to our prospects long before we’re in their consideration set, and use our positions of authority to grow our reputation and crush our business development goals — all without selling.

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.

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.

Agency Owners

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How agency owners can know whether or not it’s the right time to sell
  • What the right time to sell looks like for your prospects, existing clients, and even for clients who’ve parted ways with your agency
  • Why agency owners are not always in the driver’s seat when it comes to engaging business development opportunities — and why that’s ok
  • How to ensure that you’re providing value to your prospects long before they’re on your radar
  • What agency owners can do to accelerate the sales process
  • The reason Drew says you shouldn’t try to sell until after you’ve been helpful
  • How agencies are crushing their business development goals — without selling
Apr 4, 2022

Running an agency in a post-COVID world means growing more and more comfortable operating in a virtual environment. This collective shift in our industry has been happening for a while, but after navigating a global pandemic, agency owners have had to pivot more rapidly than in the past. As a result, agency owners are left wondering how they can genuinely connect with their prospects and invest in those relationships when the human aspect of interaction has shifted to a digital one.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, I talk with encore guest, Tom Martin. Tom is the Founder and CEO of Converse Digital, and he knows a thing or two about the collective shift into the digital world – a shift that isn’t going to reverse anytime soon. Tom and I discuss how sales strategies, pitches, and the dynamics of client interactions have been influenced by this digital shift.

You’ll probably be just as relieved as I was to hear Tom share why that shift, while uncomfortable for many of us, is actually a GOOD thing for agencies. We also delve into the importance of strategically creating your prospect lists and how you and your pitch teams can use social media, the internet, and other digital environments our clients rely on to your agency’s advantage. Tom gives expert advice on successfully attracting, building, and effectively selling agency relationships in a virtual world.

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.

Agency Relationships

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What sales, prospecting, and effective agency relationships look like in a post-COVID world
  • How Tom went from being “unemployable” to owning his own agency
  • Why Tom emphasizes the importance of strategically attracting your prospects
  • What it means for your pitch teams to “do their homework” — and why it’s usually the key to winning a sale
  • How sales strategies and client relationships have adapted to an increasingly digital environment
  • Why Tom believes that your prospects list is ultimately worthless if it’s impersonal
  • How investing the time in getting to know your prospects will place you leaps and bounds over your competitors
  • What it means to be a “conversation catalyst,” and how you and your pitch teams can use what Tom calls “social reconnaissance” to offer more value to your prospects
  • Why the industry-wide shift to virtual sales and virtual relationships is actually a GOOD thing for agencies
Mar 28, 2022

Time sheets. Taxes. Annual reviews. There are some things we don’t love as agency owners and leaders. Cybersecurity and compliance are absolutely on that list. But much like taxes, it’s a necessary evil today. The risks are too great, and the reality is – our clients are going to demand it. We’re far better off to get out ahead of it before we’re asked.

Even my guest, Nathan Maxwell, refers to cybersecurity and compliance as “necessary evils.” But, as the CEO of CCITeam, Nathan also knows better than anyone that in a world filled with data breaches, security risks, and unpredictable online attacks, avoidance simply isn’t an option.
Nathan isn’t one to sugarcoat the daunting realities of implementing solid defenses, navigating cyber insurance options, or tending to the growing list of compliance concerns we’re all getting from our clients. But during our conversation, he reminds us that those processes, while painstaking at times, are never insurmountable. In fact, when we take the time to do these things the right way, our efforts won’t just make our companies safer — they’ll make them better.

Founded in 1995, CCITeam (formerly Communication Concepts, Inc.) is a full-service cyber security, compliance, and IT firm, headquartered in the US heartland. President and CEO, Nathan Maxwell saw an important unmet need for a quality IT and cyber security provider that treated their clients more like family, rather than just a ‘number’. With over twenty years of experience in enterprise-level corporations, Nathan founded CCITeam with four core principles; care, ownership, sharing knowledge, and loyalty. Each of these principles is what makes CCI one of the most trusted managed IT and security providers in the region.

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.

agency operations

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What effective cybersecurity looks like for agency operations — and why you should care
  • The risks every business should be aware of (yes, small agencies too)
  • How cybersecurity and compliance are the same, and also very different
  • Why your policies need to match your practices and how to make sure they do
  • How your employees can either strengthen your cyber defense…or be its greatest weakness
  • What to do to protect your business from big risks — including the ones lurking in your inbox
  • When to start shopping for cyber insurance and how to know how much you need
  • The ROI for agencies who “do all of this right”
Mar 21, 2022

As agency owners, we tend to view sales as a necessary evil. Even when we love what we do, believe in how we do it, and have proof that we do it well, having to put on our “sales hats” can still feel, well, gross. But…maybe we’re going about getting those sales in the wrong way.

Nobody likes sales…except for David Priemer. David loves sales. In fact, he loves sales so much that he opted to leave his non-sales background to deconstruct the traditional sales approach and develop his own methodology based on consumer science, research, and psychology.

David has built a wildly successful career around his methodology: Cerebral Selling. And lucky for us, he uses it to help other business owners revamp and rethink their sales process to make it more efficient, effective, and most importantly, more human. I’m so excited to share our conversation with you so that you can start loving sales too — even if you hate selling.

As the Founder and Chief Sales Scientist of Cerebral Selling, David’s unique science and empathy-based approaches to driving revenue and talent growth have been published in the Harvard Business Review as well as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc. magazines. Often referred to as the “Sales Professor,” David is also the author of the Bestselling book, Sell The Way You Buy, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University and the London Business School.

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.

Agency Owners

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to sell your business even if you absolutely hate sales
  • What it means to “sell the way you buy”
  • The biggest mistakes agency owners make when trying to sell their business
  • How giving people the opportunity to say “no” can win you more “yesses”
  • Why your CTAs might be scaring your customers away — and how to fix them
  • The one thing that customers buy 100% of the time (yes, 100%)
  • Why your sales pitches should be focused on problems, not solutions
  • How taking the pressure to sell off of yourself will take the pressure off of your customers too — and why that’s a good thing for both of you
Mar 14, 2022

Like so many other business environments, our industry is one that is undeniably extroverted on the surface. Agency work is collaborative, relational, creative, and dynamic — all attributes that seem to be catered almost exclusively to extroverted individuals. So where does that leave our introverted counterparts?

Monica Parkin, my guest for this episode, is not only an award-winning public speaker, an acclaimed author, and an engaging business leader; she’s also a total introvert (a title she wears with pride). Like so many, she used to think that gaining momentum in this industry as an introvert was an uphill battle — that is until she decided to flip those false assumptions right on their head. And now, she’s here to help us do the same.

Monica knows firsthand that introverts offer a host of hidden talents and superpowers that are invaluable for all agency teams, talents that are often overlooked or overpowered by the “louder” voices in the room. During our awesome conversation, she reveals what those superpowers are, how introverted individuals can harness their unique skills to find success without pretending to be someone they aren’t, and how agency leaders can create environments that allow the introverted voices within their own teams to rise above all the noise and truly shine.

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.

Agency Leaders

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why introverts are natural relationship-building masters
  • How career paths look different for introverts and extroverts, but lead to the same level of success
  • Tips, tricks, and tactics for introverts looking to magnify their ideas, form meaningful business relationships, and make their voices heard
  • Why marketing “like an extrovert” simply doesn’t work for introverts — and why that’s ok
  • How agency leaders can create environments that empower introverted talent to thrive
  • Why introverts and extroverts are both invaluable agency resources
  • How to create magic by mixing introverted and extroverted talent into your agency teams
Mar 7, 2022

Today, we’re delving into a topic that’s been on my mind, and on the minds of agency owners in general, for quite some time: employees.

No matter where you are or how big your agency is, staffing is a challenge for everyone right now. Every time the subject comes up during my conversations with agency owners, there are two frustrations in particular that bubble to the surface time and time again:

  1. It is hard to find and attract qualified agency talent
  2. It is hard to retain the qualified and talented people who already work for us

To tackle those frustrations, let’s explore several things agencies can do right now to counter the rival opportunities your current team members are being poached and approached with on any given day (and yes, it is happening.) We’re also going to get to the heart of what it takes for agencies to create an environment that is attractive to new employees, and a culture that makes your current team want to stick around — and not just for a year or so.

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.

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.

Agency Employees

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How agencies can attract new, qualified talent
  • What it takes to keep your agency employees around for more than a year or two
  • What agency employees are looking for in a great employer, and how to be one
  • How to create an agency environment that is attractive to both new and current employees
  • How to utilize other tools for retention instead of relying solely on wage increases
  • Why you should be sharing your agency’s vision with your employees as often as possible
  • The massive value career paths offer agency employees — and owners too
  • The importance of cultivating your culture not for, but with your employees
Feb 28, 2022

The last few years have thrown a lot at us — both professionally and personally. While we’ve done our best to navigate all of that unpredictability, many have struggled to not only react to these changes but adapt. As agencies continue to reframe and take stock of where we’re at in this “new normal,” I can’t think of a better time to dive into some impressive research just released in RSW/US’s 2022 New Year Outlook report.

RSW/US talked to marketers, CMOs, business owners, agencies, and the people who are seeking out their services to get a diverse and balanced read on how these groups see the world right now — and what they anticipate for what lies ahead. In this episode of Build a Better Agency our guest, Lee McKnight, shares some of the most surprising and invaluable insights uncovered during those conversations. Then together, we break them down into key takeaways and actionable next steps that agencies can take to adapt and thrive in this climate of constant change.

Lee is no stranger to the podcast, nor is he a stranger to building and maintaining solid agency relationships — even in times like these, when the landscapes of client communication, lead generation, and sales elevation seem to be shifting indefinitely.


As Vice President of Sales at RSW/US, Lee drives sales efforts to bring ad agencies and marketing services firms on board with RSW, creates content around successful new business tactics, and takes part in RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements.

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.

Agency Relationships

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Key takeaways from the RSW/US 2022 New Year Outlook survey, and what they mean for agencies
  • Surprising insights from marketers on spending, specialization, and shifting sales landscapes
  • Why so many marketers are pulling back on their non-marketing activities — and what that means for agencies
  • What agencies can do to elevate their sales process when face-to-face networking isn’t on the table
  • The not-so-hidden benefits of being a specialization agency
  • How agency relationships work differently in the virtual space — and how to adapt
  • Why it is crucial for agencies to alternate their content and sales platforms
  • How to build strong client relationships long before the initial pitch
Feb 21, 2022

For an industry that is heavily dependent on effective sales practices, many agency owners are intimidated by the “s” word. It conjures horrible imagery of vacuum salesmen trying to trick people into making purchases they don’t actually want or need. Hiring sales teams might seem like the right step but the results are often disappointing and it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why. This can turn one of the most important aspects of building a successful agency into the most strenuous aspect.

Kevin Snow is dedicated to helping businesses and business owners think through their approach to selling, while also helping them get more comfortable with the process. He believes strongly that shifting from a sales pitch to a simple conversation is key to making the outcome more pleasant and effective on both sides of the table.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Kevin and I demystify what it means to have a successful sales model. We look at ways to approach sales comfortably, regardless of your personality type. We unravel what it means to have sales automation that doesn’t feel phony or contrived, and we ultimately hope to help business owners reimagine this “necessary evil” as an enjoyable conversation with an outcome.

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.

Sales Strategy

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The best small business sales model
  • Sale tactics for introverts
  • Making the most of sales automation
  • The important shift in how to approach sales
Feb 14, 2022

Business development is a complicated and challenging aspect of agency life for many owners. The same rules that applied when the agency was new no longer apply once it starts to settle into its identity. But what is that identity, and how can it best be leveraged for business growth? And what if you want to shift that identity to better define how you want to be seen and known?

 

After five episodes talking about the various pieces of the Biz Dev puzzle, this final episode in the mini-series pulls it all together into an action plan. It’s not enough to want to do better; you have to do the work, identify the goals and put an accountability process into place.

Here, we’re going to explore specific, tangible steps for making Biz Dev at your agency a success.

For example — you might be considering hiring someone to manage your business development. We’ll look at the reality of that route.

We’ll also do a short recap of the topics covered in this series, and then we’ll dive into a game plan that starts with dividing the sales funnel into four sections, each with its specific approach.

And by the end of the discussion, you’ll be ready to take your biz dev plan to the next level.

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.

Biz Dev Ideas Into Action

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Thoughts on hiring new business development managers
  • Recapping Episodes 1-5 of this biz dev series
  • Steps of a Biz Dev System
  • Identify sweet spot prospects
  • The need for accountability
  • A sales funnel exercise
Feb 7, 2022

Agency life has evolved dramatically since the era portrayed in shows like Mad Men. We used to be the keepers of the “secret sauce” for making the magic happen, and now we’re the keepers of the secret knowledge for using that magic to its greatest potential. Agencies used to be expected to be generalists, but now clients and prospects are looking for specialists with a depth of strategic expertise. And part of that specialty is having a clear point of view. But you can’t just whisper it; you have to shout it from the mountaintops.

 

Agency life has evolved dramatically since the era portrayed in shows like Mad Men. We used to be the keepers of the “secret sauce” for making the magic happen, and now we’re the keepers of the secret knowledge for using that magic to its greatest potential. Agencies used to be expected to be generalists, but now clients and prospects are looking for specialists with a depth of strategic expertise. And part of that specialty is having a clear point of view. But you can’t just whisper it; you have to shout it from the mountaintops.

This episode continues a short series dedicated to improving your agency’s biz dev efforts. We’ve discussed the importance of finding a niche several times on this podcast. But here — our focus will be to go a step further. We’ll look at the importance of claiming and declaring your agency’s point of view — and how to do it.

There are questions you can ask of your agency to finetune your POV. There are ways your agency can be findable without needing to continuously create and churn out original content for each different platform. And you might think you need to speak to a large audience but focusing smaller is actually easier and faster to monetize. Putting the ideas spelled out in this conversation into action will help set your agency on a course toward success.

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.

Agency POV

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The timeline of how agency life has changed
  • The importance of declaring your point of view
  • Questions to help you define your agency’s point of view
  • The cornerstone & cobblestone content concept
  • Why it’s easier to monetize a narrower audience
Jan 31, 2022

Agency business development has to consider many things when setting goals. There is new business to be found, existing business to expand, and lost business to make up for. It can be difficult to juggle all of this information as the agency owner, but it can be challenging for an agency’s AEs who aren’t clear on how to best leverage their position.

Today’s episode continues the series dedicated to improving your biz dev efforts. The first three episodes were focused on you as the business owner, but here in Part 4, we shift the focus to your AEs and helping them grow their book of business and your agency’s bottom line.

There are many ways AEs can be better equipped, and it starts with giving them a stronger toolbox. Their outside perspective is a huge asset that is often overlooked, but they first need to understand “agency math” and exactly what you need from them. Their book of business is key to your agency’s success, and only by clarifying, training, and mentoring can they make the most of it. When they are given the tools and the space to make informed decisions, you set them–and your agency–up for success.

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.

Book of Business Growth

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What agency owners get wrong with their new business goal numbers
  • How to plan for attrition
  • Understanding “agency math”
  • Tips for helping AEs grow their book of business
  • How to utilize your AEs outside perspective
  • The agency owner’s role in helping AEs grow business
Jan 24, 2022

Agencies often pose important questions to our clients in order to help steer them into good decision-making. We talk to them about the need to be findable, to understand the customer’s buying journey, to be helpful to clients instead of selling to them, and being aware of how far prospects are into the buying decision by the time the client is actually aware the prospect exists. We are great at teaching this to our clients, but many agencies aren’t so great at taking their own advice.

 

Today’s episode is continuing our deep dive into agency biz dev with Part 3 of our series. Building up the previous discussions surrounding niching and the different stages of business development during its lifetime, Drew looks at the 6 kisses of death that undermine biz dev for many agencies and how to avoid them.

The conversation explores how successful biz dev often flies in the face of our comfort level. We have to make bold decisions and proclamations in order to own our authority and stand out in a crowded marketplace. If you can learn to be not only aware of but vigilant in avoiding these common mistakes, you set your agency up for tremendous success.

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.

Biz Dev Mistakes

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • 4 questions we teach our clients that we need to ask ourselves
  • How consistency in the right biz dev areas rewards your agency.
  • How to stop looking and sounding like everyone else.
  • Why generic content hurts you.
  • What it takes to do more than whisper your niche.
  • Miscalculating the number of new clients needed to grow your agency.
  • How passivity creates problems for your agency.
Jan 17, 2022

During the lifetime of an agency, how that agency/agency owner approaches business development evolves. In the beginning, an agency’s first clients are people the agency owner knows personally. From there, as the agency matures and grows, it morphs into working with people who have been referred to the agency by happy clients. Many agencies never evolve past this level of business development. It can be challenging to see options for the continuum of business development beyond the normal routine.

 

Today’s episode is continuing our deep dive into agency biz dev. Building up the previous discussion about the importance of finding a niche, Drew looks at the 5 stages that create the continuum of business development and explains why 85% of agencies never reach the most effective and sophisticated of levels.

You get to decide where on the continuum your agency lands. But to make an informed decision, you have to know your options.

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.

Continuum of Business Development

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The five stages on the continuum of business development
  • Why offering deals never serves in the long run
  • The need to be interesting instead of interested
  • Statistics related to how prospects find their agency
  • The ideal structure for an agency
Jan 10, 2022

As we start to dip our toes into 2022, many agencies have been pretty quiet on the biz dev front for the last 4-6 weeks. By the time we emerge from the holiday hibernation, we’re approaching February and our pipeline is feeling a little weak. I decided to help you jump-start your agency biz dev efforts with a series of podcast conversations just between you and me.

 

I’ve decided to mix things up a bit. 2022 is my year to shake things up a little and why not start in January? Rather than my usual guest interviews, I’m going to spend this month with you, focusing on helping you take a serious look at how you approach biz dev. Here in episode 1, we focus on something fundamental to many agencies’ success: defining a niche.
I’m going to start by looking at why the old-school approach to biz dev no longer works and why selling has evolved into helping. From there, we’ll explore why many agencies approach biz dev backwards and the list of criteria to consider when working to find your agency’s niche.

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.

Biz Dev

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why old school agency biz dev no longer works
  • How selling has become about helping
  • Why many agencies approach biz dev backwards
  • The brutal truth about the need to niche down
  • AMI as a niche case study
  • The criteria to use when thinking about how to niche
Jan 3, 2022

There’s no denying that artificial intelligence isn’t just part of the future, it’s here today. But the concept is overwhelming for many agency owners. It’s hard to know where to begin when you don’t even know what questions to ask or how to find answers, especially when you are already pulled in so many directions every day. Who has time to add learning something as complex as AI to their TO-DO list?

After running her own agency and then spending a decade at Content Marketing Institute, Cathy McPhillips joined the Marketing AI Institute earlier this year as the Chief Growth Officer. She comes at AI through a marketing-practitioner’s lens which gives her a more approachable perspective for people who might be curious but confused by AI.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Cathy and I give a beginner’s overview of the crossroads where marketing meets artificial intelligence. We look at the ways to approach AI, how agencies are using it, and the tools that make dipping your toes in the water manageable, clear, and helpful without a huge time commitment. It’s the goal of this conversation that you will leave feeling inspired to take your first steps into understanding the potential of marketing AI.

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.
Marketing AI

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Two ways to approach AI
  • The purpose and goal of the Marketing AI Institute
  • What agencies are looking for in terms of AI
  • How AI can help with efficiency
  • The difference between marketing automation and AI
  • Why AI can never fully replace the need for people
  • Some tools available to get started with AI
  • The easiest first step
Dec 27, 2021

In response to the changes brought about by the pandemic, many agency owners have turned to fear-based decision-making. Employee turnover and demands coupled with an erratic market and global uncertainty can make things feel out of control. Trying to steer an agency with a vision requires decision-making that might put you at odds with your team so it might feel wise to placate rather than push. But it’s not.

In this solocast, we’re going to take a hard look at the fear-based leadership that has come to plague many of us during the challenges of the last few years. I’m going to explain why the fear won’t change the outcome, a couple of universal truths about what it means to run an agency without this fear, the level of decision-making that needs to return to the forefront, and why it’s so important to embrace once again the joys of being an agency owner.

There’s no doubt that we live in uncertain, confusing, and scary times but we cannot let these challenges define us as leaders. It’s my hope that this conversation will inspire you to march into 2022 with a renewed sense of peace and purpose.
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.

Fear-based Leadership

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why many agencies are currently run based on fear
  • Why fear-based decision making won’t change the outcome
  • The universal truths of not running an agency based on fear
  • Three levels of decision making
  • The need to embrace again the joy of owning an agency
Dec 20, 2021

Diversity and inclusion have never been more front and center and the workplace is being called upon to better reflect the world around us, especially by our younger employees and potential employees. Agencies are trying to do their part, but many are feeling lost because they simply don’t know what they don’t know. If we want to continue to attract young talent, we have to crack this code.

Over a year ago, brand consultant and marketing specialist Michael Barber published a post about spending time in a high school class talking about careers in our industry and diversity in the workplace. I’ve known Michael for years and knew that conversation was one I’d have loved to eavesdrop on if I could. I decided to bring him on the show so we could all listen in!

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Michael and I have a wide-ranging conversation about what he learned from his discussion with these students. We talk about what they are looking for in potential employers, what Michael believes is a missing piece in modern education, and the tactics for building and creating a more diverse and welcoming environment. It’s hard work but important work and I hope you find the discussion as inspiring as I did.

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.
The Young Adult Perspective

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What young people are looking for in a workplace
  • The missing piece in modern education
  • The vast choices available to professional young people
  • Young people’s thoughts on the responsibilities of diversity and inclusion
  • The changes coming to our audiences
  • Tactics for creating a workplace that attracts diversity
Dec 13, 2021

When things are going well in our agencies and our personal lives, it’s easy to relax into the comfort of that success. One of the risks of that comfort is missing the signs that trouble is brewing below the surface. There’s a difference between living in fear and anticipating challenges. No one is suggesting we live a life of paranoia where we’re constantly waiting for things to fall apart, but a vigilant approach to life and business can help us steer clear of troubled waters before we’re knee-deep in them.

Author Len Herstein started as a consultant in consumer-packaged goods marketing before life took an expected turn that led to him becoming a police officer at age 45. Though these worlds seem vastly different on the surface the through-line he discovered was one about the risks and dangers of complacency.
In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Len and I take a deep dive into complacency: how it’s defined, the damage it can do, and why agency owners are among the most susceptible to its dangers. We discuss tangible tactics for creating awareness in your agency, the importance of transparency, and how to successfully self-assess your own complacency. It’s a big conversation about an important topic meant to inspire you to be vigilant.

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:

  • Where complacency comes from and why it is so dangerous.
  • Why agency owners are among the most susceptible to complacency.
  • Why you need to “articulate your why”
  • The opposite of complacency
  • The dangers of having a lack of engagement
  • What it means to get off the “X”
  • The need to be transparent
  • How to brief and debrief successfully
  • 3 questions to self-assess complacency
Dec 6, 2021

Understanding how clients view the agency relationship is key to making the most of that partnership. Every year since 2014, AMI and Audience Audit have brought you The Agency Edge Research Series to hopefully give helpful insights into what clients and prospects are looking for when working with agencies. The 2020 research correctly indicated that 2021 was going to be very robust for agency business. This year’s study was built to better understand the thinking behind this growth on the client side, in particular how this explosion in engagement affected how they thought about their agency relationships.

The Agency Edge Research Series is a collaboration between AMI, Audience Audit, and Dynata. Where other studies focus on industries or the size of client companies, we were interested in how these clients were feeling about a handful of topics. Audience Audit’s Susan Baier is here to give an overview of the 2021 findings.
In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Susan and I explain the methodologies used in creating the Agency Edge Research Series. We give an overview of the three client segments that revealed themselves, explain how an agency can diagnose clients and prospects in order to best serve what they are looking for. In the show notes below you will find a link to the 17-page executive summary and we hope this information will help you make the most of your client relationships.

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:

  • The methodologies used in the Agency Edge Research Series
  • The insight that revealed itself for the first time this year
  • The focus of this year’s study
  • How the three segments of this study are defined: Committed, Concerned, and Close
  • How agencies can diagnose clients and prospects to know what segment they are in
  • Ways to work best with each segment
  • How agencies can manipulate the data for their own needs
Nov 29, 2021

Everyone wants to make and have more money but understanding all the available financial options and opportunities can be overwhelming. Many agency owners are juggling debt, income, personal and professional mortgages, and complex investment plans, most of which are managed by advice we were given by our parents when we were young. We’ve heard of ways to use our money to make money, but it all sounds a little impossible to believe.

Adam Carroll is one of the nation’s top financial educators and he is here to cut through the confusion and show how viable many of these options really are. Adam is a long-time friend of the Agency Management Institute, and this conversation is his third visit to the podcast and follows his well-received appearance at the Build A Better Agency Summit.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Adam and I discuss a lot of the available tools and methodologies available for helping people reach financial security and freedom faster and in much bigger ways than might seem possible. We look at ways to double your money in 3 years, better understand the power of compound interest, and identify the different kinds of legacy. We talk about how we all need to start thinking about wealth differently by starting to ask ourselves bigger, different questions about our goals and dreams.

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.

Make More Money

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Understanding the “Shred Method” for reducing debt
  • How to double your money in 3-5 years
  • Why it doesn’t make sense to hold onto a long-term mortgage
  • The power of compound interest
  • Identifying the 4 kinds of legacy
  • Equity planning
  • How to start thinking differently about wealth
  • The importance of joining a Mastermind
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