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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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Mar 30, 2020

US and European based agency owners are fightly vigilantly as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds in their region of the world. It’s affecting agencies and their clients in significant ways. I’ve been talking to agency owners non-stop for the last two weeks and one thing is for sure – one agency’s experience is not like another’s. For some, business and AGI has never been better. In others, 50% of their AGI has walked out in less than ten days. I wanted to connect with an agency owner who had already experienced everything we are going through today and could tell us what’s coming next.

Kiri Sinclair owns the 50-person PR shop aptly named Sinclair. They’re based in Hong Kong with hubs in several cities in China and they are about three months ahead of us in dealing with the coronavirus. Needless to say, there are some good lessons for us to learn from her experience.

Hong Kong and mainland China reacted differently to the initial outbreak than European countries and the US have reacted so our experience may not be perfectly parallel. However, the timeline still provides us with some idea of what to expect moving forward. The good news is – there’s good news.
Two and a half months in, client business in Hong Kong has picked up and things are moving back to normal. Every country and every agency is different, but Kiri’s story serves as a beacon of hope and helps us anticipate what is coming next.

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:

  • How agency owners across the globe are responding to the COVID-crisis
  • The experience of Hong Kong-based agency owner Kiri Sinclair since the outbreak first occurred there over two months ago
  • How clients responded to the global pandemic in Asia
  • How to be proactive in protecting client relationships and the team amidst the crisis
  • How to consider handling internal changes such as pay and lay-offs
  • Mistakes our guest made and what she would have done differently if she knew then what she knows now

The Golden Nuggets:

“Agencies in the U.S. and Europe are very lucky to have an additional two months of knowledge to make difficult decisions.” @SinclairTalkCLICK TO TWEET“Get your contingency plans in order. Then, communicate what those contingency plans are, how your business is operating at this moment in time, and how you are supporting the community to contain this outbreak.” @SinclairTalkCLICK TO TWEET

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Ways to contact Kiri Sinclair:

Tools & Resources:

Mar 23, 2020

Today’s episode is a twofer – and both topics are going to benefit your shop. The first is the idea of collaborating with your prospects to create content that is valuable for both of you. From there you can leverage that shared experience to create new opportunities for your agency. The second is how you can write that book you’ve been thinking about, despite how overloaded your calendar and life can be.

My guest is James Carbary, the owner of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast-first media company. James was with us once before back in Episode #156 where we talked about James’ approach to networking. And in the latest episode of Build a Better Agency, we dive even further into his creative collaboration methodology as we discuss the writing process and major talking points of his new book, Content-Based Networking: How to Instantly Connect with Anyone You Want to Know.

James asserts that when you partner with your prospects to produce content that will serve their organization’s business goals, you can connect and create the foundation of a relationship. That relationship will serve your agency in a variety of ways, ranging from referrals to a new client. On top of that, the content is also useful to your audience, so it’s establishing your position of authority, as Stephen Woessner and I detail in our new book Sell With Authority.

As if that wasn’t already a value-packed episode, I also asked James how he, as a busy agency owner, found the time to write the book. He reveals all of his shortcuts and secrets and you’re going to want to hear them all!

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 | How to grow your agency using content collaboration with James Carbary

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • If you decide to go with a different keyword, make sure to have the keyword listed in at least one bullet point
  • The concept of James’ new book, Content-Based Networking: How to Instantly Connect with Anyone You Want to Know
  • How content collaboration serves your agency’s biz dev efforts
  • James’ framework for content-based networking and how to apply it
  • How to write and publish your own book
  • How to use your book as a biz dev too

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Ways to contact James Carbary:

Tools & Resources:

Mar 16, 2020

There’s not a small business owner on the planet who isn’t concerned about how the coronavirus is going to impact their business, employees, clients, and family. Those worries are complicated by the fact that this is also a health risk to those you love. I can’t help with the health risk part – but I can help ease your fears about your business. We’re going to survive this together and in this episode, I am going to give you some tips and tactics to get you and your agency through this storm and back to calm waters.

If you’ve owned your agency for a while, you’ve already survived a similar season. We weathered 9/11 and in the U.S the ’07 to ’08 recession. It wasn’t pleasant or pretty — but you got your agency through it and I want you to recognize that you can and will do it again.

I’m going to walk you through steps to protect yourself and your agency in these areas:

  • Your team
  • Money
  • Clients
  • Biz dev

It’s going to require strong leadership and a kind, compassionate heart — and following the metrics to get your agency through the next few months. But you’ve got all of that in spades — so let’s get through this together!

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How this economic slowdown is not the first we’ve seen
  • What to keep in mind if you shift to a remote work situation
  • The place where you’re at the most danger of putting your agency at risk
  • The financial metrics you cannot afford to ignore
  • How to take a long-range view of the virus situation and find opportunities in the chaos
  • The unlikely upsides of this season

AMI works with agency owners by:

  • 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.”

Subscribe to Build A Better Agency!

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Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

Tools & Resources (if needed):

Mar 9, 2020

The more you know about a person, the easier it is to connect with them. One of the challenges when it comes to biz dev is that we really don’t know too much about the prospect we’re trying to build a relationship with, especially in the early stages of the sales pitch. But what if there was a way for you to gain those insights even if you’ve never met them in person?

Charlie Poulson’s first job out of college was building PPT decks for one of the country’s largest agencies. That experience gave him insights on the technical side of sales. A recent discovery of a tool that adds in some psychological insights has allowed him to build a business helping others succeed at sales.

In the latest episode of Build a Better Agency, Charlie explains how agency owners can structure proposals and presentations in a way that resonates with their audience, because they know who that person is and how they tick, thanks to Crystal, a Chrome plugin that provides DISC assessment information based on their LinkedIn profile and other social channels.
Take a listen and then connect with your prospects at a whole different 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.

Agency Owners | Leveraging psychology to improve agency sales with Charlie Poulson

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • If you decide to go with a different keyword, make sure to have the keyword listed in at least one bullet point.
  • The psychology behind agency sales communication
  • How agency owners can communicate more effectively with prospects
  • The art of presentation design for agencies
  • How Charlie creates presentations and proposals that resonate with decision-makers
  • How Charlie is using AI (Crystal the Chrome plugin) to gather data and insights about agency prospects
  • How to create different pitch decks for a variety of personality types

Ways to Contact Charlie Poulson:

Tools & Resources:

Mar 2, 2020

Many agency owners are familiar with the book Traction by Gino Wickman and his Entrepreneurial Operating System. It’s a fantastic methodology for improving your agency’s ability to scale effectively, growing a leadership team and building a more sustainable, profitable agency. If you implement Traction properly. Otherwise, it can be a huge waste of time and money.

Traction” is not just a book — it is a new way of running your business so that you can delight your clients but also make your own agency a priority. No more “cobbler’s children have no shoes” excuses about why your website is never updated, your internal priorities are ignored or your agency is stuck in terms of growth and profitability.

I have served many agencies as their Traction implementer and through that experience have figured out some of the biggest pitfalls, mistakes and challenges that agencies run into when they launch Traction inside their shop. In this solocast, I will walk you through the benefits of Traction and how to get the most from the effort.

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 | Using Traction to scale and strengthen your agency with Drew McLellan

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How agency owners can benefit from Traction and EOS
  • How to build your agency’s traction team
  • How to implement Traction in your agency
  • What decisions/practices impact the effectiveness of Traction in our agencies
  • How to navigate the challenging segments of the Traction process
AMI works with agency owners by:
  • 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.”

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

Tools & Resources:

 
Feb 24, 2020

I have long preached the concept of being a specialist versus a generalist to my audience, so it should come as no surprise to you that along with my co-author Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI, I have just written a book on the subject.

Sell With Authority is a playbook for agency new business efforts that will allow you to shorten your sales cycle, increase your pricing and profitability and actually attract your ideal customers to knock on YOUR door, rather than the other way around. In this week’s episode, Stephen and I talk about some of the core principles of the book and why we’re both so passionate about the approach.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The inspiration and core concepts behind our new book, Sell With Authority
  • How to be seen as an authority in your industry
  • The biz dev decisions that will help you achieve rapid growth
  • Why you should narrow your agency’s focus
  • How to differentiate your agency by having a unique point of view
  • How to use cornerstone content to build authority across multiple channels

Ways to Contact Stephen Woessner:

Feb 17, 2020

Robert Glazer is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global marketing agency that specializes in partner or affiliate marketing. Initially, I planned on spending our time debunking the myths around affiliate marketing space (which we still covered), but our conversation took an interesting turn and instead we focused on Acceleration Partners’ growth journey. Robert described the transformation of his agency from five employees to several hundred in multiple countries – all in less than a decade. As you might imagine, it was not without some difficult crossroads.

Robert is the author of the new Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller, Elevate on how to build capacity while setting and achieving agency goals while helping the individual team members do the same. On top of sharing an agency leader’s perspective of the story behind Acceleration Partners’ growth, Robert discusses the inspiration behind his written content and what it means to him.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Robert’s role as the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners
  • Robert’s view of affiliate marketing in the agency world
  • How Robert took his agency of five FTEs and grew it multifold
  • How agency culture played a role in the immense growth of Acceleration Partners
  • How Robert holds his team accountable for maintaining Acceleration Partners’ culture
Feb 10, 2020

We get hired because our clients want to surround themselves with expertise and a depth of knowledge that they don’t have in-house. They know we have to stay current on the trends shaping our business and theirs if we want to remain relevant. But in a rapidly evolving marketplace, it’s challenging to stay ahead of the curve. Rohit Bhargava and his Non-obvious book series has been a go-to resource ever since the first book appears in 2013.

Back in Episode #33, Rohit walked us through his process of curating and tracking trends as a part of his Non-Obvious book series. In this week’s episode, he comes back on the show to tell us which trends from his new book, Non-Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future, of particular importance to agencies and their clients.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The biggest trends agency owners and leaders face in 2020
  • Rohit’s journey through the agency realm
  • What makes Rohit’s new book, Non-Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future a little different from the rest
  • Critical trends agency owners and leaders should be paying attention to in 2020

Ways to Contact Rohit Bhargava:

Feb 3, 2020

Most of us didn’t major in math or accounting. In fact, many of us were drawn to our industry because it wasn’t math centric! Unfortunately, agency leaders are not math exempt. Without proper financial data, it’s impossible to successfully run a profitable agency. This means your accounting partner, in-house or not, should be your constant companion.

Many agencies are exploring an outsourced accounting solution, just like most of us outsource our tax prep. But there is more to accounting than what meets the eye. Chris Hervochon is the founder of Better Way CPA that was built to serve agencies. Chris and his team approach accounting as a vital source of data that can help us make better decisions in real-time.

Chris joined us to discuss the metrics and best practices we can use to run our agencies better. We also talk about how to automate some of your accounting to really take full advantage of the information you have.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How to maximize the value of an outsourced CFO
  • Chris’ view on the purpose of accounting
  • Common mistakes that agency owners make with their books
  • The automation of accounting and the value it can bring to your agency
  • How accounting has changed and what it is able to do for us as agencies owners

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Ways to Contact Chris Hervochon:

Jan 27, 2020

It doesn’t matter if you are a small shop, a specialized shop, in a major market, or based in rural areas – odds are, your biggest struggle right now is attracting and retaining talent. Many agency owners are losing sleep over staffing up or even worse, losing one of their key players. Interestingly, how you’re hiring may be one of the reasons your tenured employees are giving notice.

Right now, employees and prospective employees hold all the cards. They are being recruited by organizations that can pay better than any agency and offer what appears to be a more stable, slower-paced work environment. What is an agency owner to do?

I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but you should make people work harder for the privilege of working for you. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, we’ll walk through how playing a little hard to get will earn you better prospects and future employees and keep your current employees satisfied.

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 there is such a high turnover rate in agencies across the country
  • What you can do to attract and retain top talent
  • Why you should play hard to get, despite the challenges of hiring
  • How to strengthen your interview process to make better hires
  • What to look for in potential candidates for your team

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.”

Subscribe to Build A Better Agency!

Itunes Logo Stitcher button

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

Tools & Resources:

Jan 20, 2020

Culture matters. As agency owners and leaders, we get that. And we love creating a “great culture.” But, developing a great culture is about more than beer o’clock and having a ping pong table. Yes, fun is important. But if you want to attract and retain the top talent in your industry, that alone is not going to cut it.

John Waid of Corporate Culture Consulting joins us on this episode of Build A Better Agency to teach us a fresh approach to developing agency culture. He explains how to identify and define your organization’s culture, so you can align it with your strategic goals.

By focusing on organizational culture instead of a more superficial definition culture, we create an environment where the best employees want to stay and thrive. It enables us to map out our core values so we can weave them into the DNA of the agency and establish clear rules of engagement for clients, peers, and leadership alike.

John has a very unique perspective on how culture comes to life and how you can foster a culture that is outcome-focused. This conversation will reshape your perspective even if you think you have this one nailed.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Superficial culture vs. organizational culture
  • The factors that contribute to a great agency culture
  • How your culture plays a major role in talent acquisition and retention
  • How to set behavioral expectations that bring your agency’s core values to life
  • Why a great culture has the potential to course-correct a poor work ethic
  • How to introduce new values to your agency and maintain them for years to come

Ways to Contact John Waid:

Jan 13, 2020

Biz dev, mentorship, and relationship management are critical responsibilities of every agency owner. But the hours in a workday are limited, and if we fail to delegate with confidence, the work that is uniquely ours will not get done. It’s just too easy to get sucked into client work or internal issues that we shouldn’t be focused on. Every agency owner needs a #1 who walks, talks, and leads like an owner because they enable us to actually do our job.

In this episode, AMI’s own Craig Barnes chats with Drew about his observations as to what it takes to recognize, find and keep a great lieutenant from his lens as the facilitator of AMI’s Key Executive networks. Craig also walks us through how to groom an existing employee who you believe has the potential to fill that role.

Throughout his experience running his own agency for 25+ years and his role at AMI, Craig has gleaned some invaluable insights about leadership team level team members in the agency world. If you are interested in learning how to identify that critical player for your team and prepare them for success, this episode is for you.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The common traits of agency key executives
  • All of the different functions that key executives can serve
  • How to identify key executives on your team and groom them for success
  • How you can grow as an agency owner so that your key executive can flourish
  • Why this is the ideal time to find and nurture a new leader

Ways to Contact Craig Barnes:

Jan 6, 2020

One of the challenges of agency life is that typically everything we sell is a custom job. It’s tough to build in efficiencies or systemize our production when we never make the same deliverable twice. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Back in Episode 100, we discussed the idea of structuring your agency as a wonder bread factory vs. an artisanal bakery and there are different pros and cons for each.

Website By Tonight’s Jared Gold successfully transformed his agency from an artisanal bakery into a wonder bread factory for web development. And in this episode of Build A Better Agency, Jared joins us to share the lessons he learned throughout the process so you can apply them in your own agency.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Jared’s journey from artisanal bakery to wonder bread factory with Website By Tonight
  • The benefits and drawbacks of productizing your agency’s service line
  • The lessons and insights Jared learned while switching from custom to standardized deliverables
  • How to determine what parts of your agency can actually be productized
  • Creating firm boundaries around your productized offerings so that you can always meet expectations
  • How Jared’s target audience changed when he introduced the productized service line with Website By Tonight

Ways to Contact Jared Gold:

Additional Resources:

Dec 30, 2019

Most agency owners hope to sell their agency someday down the road. If that’s you, understanding how agencies are valuated today will help you maximize that opportunity whenever it comes. Even if you aren’t interested in selling, you can and should still be beefing up your agency’s value.

Gina Cocking joins us for this episode to provide an investment banker’s perspective on the valuation and sales process. She’ll walk us through the key items investment firms look for in your agency’s valuation and explain the technical numbers-side. She’ll also help us identify ways you can add value in advance.

Gina is managing director and partner at Colonnade Advisors, a boutique investment banking firm that specializes in mergers and acquisitions in the business services industry. Colonnade has helped many agencies buy and sell, so Gina understands what it takes to help agency owners get the most out of their purchase deals.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • A glimpse inside the process of selling your agency
  • How Colonnade Advisors represents business owners selling their companies
  • The importance of enterprise value, recurring revenue, and client relationships when you sell your agency
  • How your key employees factor into a purchase deal
  • The various elements that increase or diminish an agency’s value in the marketplace
  • How to approach the numbers-side of selling your agency

Ways to Contact Gina Cocking:

Dec 23, 2019

Maybe it’s my age, but there’s a lot more talk about the importance of strengthening my core, to improve balance and stability. The same is true for our agencies. Our reality is always a bit unstable and we often expend a lot of energy anticipating the next storm. But if your agency’s core is strong, you can rest a little easier, knowing you can weather whatever comes. Just like you have for years. We forget how much we’ve already accomplished and survived when we’re heads down all of the time.

Recently, there has been a bit of an undercurrent of worry and tension in some of my conversations with agency owners, so I want to tackle that. In ep. 210 we talked about how even on our worst days, life as an agency owner is pretty darn good. In ep. 215, I gave you some action steps to take to recession-proof your agency.

And in this episode, I walk you through some ways to strengthen your agency’s core so you can approach 2020 with confidence and courage. You and your agency are survivors. Let’s set you up to take full advantage of whatever rocks the boat – good news or bad. Because if there’s one given in agency life it’s that there will be a bit of both!

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:

  • How to deal with your worries so you can approach 2020 with confidence and courage
  • How to strengthen your agency’s core
  • How to take full advantage of the gratitude you have for being an agency owner
  • The importance of mentorship and one-on-one time with your employees
  • How to love your clients in bigger, bolder ways
  • Why your agency should serve your life, not the other way around

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.”

Dec 16, 2019

There was a time when you spent most of your time learning your craft. Whether it was account service or art direction or biz dev – you had to develop the skills to do your job well. There’s no doubt that our world demands on-going education so we can continue to serve our clients. But at this point in your career, you have the luxury of focusing on something a bit deeper — developing yourself as a leader, professional, and human being. That’s why I love John Jantsch’s new book The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur so much. It invites us to do just that.

John has always been about teaching small businesses how to do marketing. His previous five books were all how to guides for everything from selling, using referrals to grow your business, and SEO. But this latest book offers no step by step instructions. In fact, it’s sort of the opposite. It’s a book about you discovering answers to bigger questions that can’t come with an instruction manual.

Each of the 366 chapters is comprised of a quote from a literary great, a reflection by John on the day’s topic (anything from limited beliefs to seizing risk) and then a thought-provoking question. You can consume the book in one big gulp or you can sip it throughout the year.

In this episode of Build A Better Agency, John and I chat about why he made the dramatic shift in writing purpose and style, how he got the book done and how he recommends readers squeeze the full value from the book.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • About John’s new book and why he chose to write a “why to” rather than another how to
  • How to invest in yourself and how that growth can serve your agency
  • The book writing process for “The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur”
  • How to use John’s book to become a stronger, more centered agency leader

Subscribe to Build A Better Agency!

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Dec 9, 2019

Have you ever wished that you had a team member dedicated to helping manage your day, your email, your commitments, and your goals? When we have someone in the office, they often get usurped by other teams or the crisis of the day. That’s one of the many advantages of working with a virtual assistant. Many agency owners are enjoying added productivity and peace of mind that comes with someone always having their back thanks to their VA!
My guest Jess Tyson takes a people-first approach to virtual assistant matchmaking. She facilitates the connection and establishes a professional relationship so you can start delegating and focusing on your highest priorities.. Jess is also the author of Panic Proof: How the Right Virtual Assistant Can Save Your Sanity and Grow Your Business, a speaker, and the Director of Calm at Don’t Panic Management. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, we talk about how virtual assistants can help you get your calm on.

VAs are a flexible commitment that ebbs and flows with your agency. Most agency owners I know use VAs to increase their efficiency and effectiveness, and VAs can become trusted members of your team if you approach the relationship the right way. It’s an option worth considering and my goal with this episode is to broaden your sense of what’s possible with a VA by your figurative side!

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How Jess’s new operations audit can help people figure out where to best spend their time and relegate, automate, or delegate the rest
  • How VAs work and how the relationships are structured
  • What Jess looks for as she searches for a client’s VA
  • The advantages of hiring a virtual assistant over a traditional admin
  • Why agency owners need to delegate
  • How a VA can manage your biggest time-suck; emails

Ways to Contact Jess Tyson:

Dec 2, 2019

Like every other consumer, your prospects go on a wild and winding journey as they consider whether or not they want to hire an agency and then go about finding that perfect partner. It’s amazing to me that many agencies teach their clients about buying journeys and yet don’t really understand what their prospects go through as they go to market.

Robin and Steve Boehler are the principals at Mercer Island Group and every day, they help brands find that perfect agency partner. They have a unique lens into the emotional roller coaster that prospects ride on their way to hiring an agency. They’ve spent the last few years documenting this journey and now they’re ready to share it with all of us so we can win at each of those milestones.

That’s why I’ve asked Robin back to the podcast, as my first three-peat guest! The Boehlers are just that smart! Take a listen and get a taste of what Robin and Steve have learned through their work with many clients, all on unique but similar journeys that will give us clues on how to win our next sweet spot prospect.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The importance of understanding and anticipating your prospects’ buying journeys
  • The emotional elements in the prospect’s buying journey
  • How to help a prospect mitigate the risk they face when switching to a new agency
  • How to get visibility with your prospects before they’re ready for a change
  • How to make a lasting impression that helps your agency stand out

Ways to Contact Robin Boehler:

 
Nov 25, 2019

There are very few agencies today who aren’t trying to solve the content challenge. The content creation process is complicated and it’s often difficult to demonstrate the ROI to clients so they will pay you what it takes to actually create something worthwhile. Clients want high performing content but aren’t excited about paying for it. And it can be tough for us to document and demonstrate what’s working and what isn’t.

At this summer’s MAICON (Marketing AI conference) conference, I met Jeff Coyle, the co-Founder and Chief Product Officer for MarketMuse. Jeff and his team are doing incredible work with AI to help agencies and brands better understand how content is performing, what content is missing and how to fill those gaps in a way that is SEO and visitor friendly.

Technology and traditional content production methods are merging, and that’s creating a whole new level of measurability, predictability and performance metrics that can justify the spend. What would take us hours to number crunch and calculate can take tools like MarketMuse mere seconds.

Join me as I explore the possibilities with subject matter expert Jeff Coyle.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The evolution of content marketing
  • How Jeff Coyle is bringing AI and traditional content production methods together
  • New tools and insights that agency owners can leverage to create more impactful content
  • Creating content that has direct conversions
  • Why you should be updating your content

Ways to Contact Jeff Coyle:

Nov 18, 2019

For the last decade, I have been living in the perfect home. I love everything about it— from the size and layout to its waterfront location. I thought I would never move again. But everything changed when I adopted my charcoal lab puppy, Heather.

Heather is about four months old right now and she already exceeds the 30lb weight limit for pets, according to our homeowner’s association. It’s safe to say she’s not getting any lighter, so we don’t have any choice but to pack up and move.

Change is a part of life and yet even though it keeps happening, it’s uncomfortable. We don’t seem to get used to it. We get settled into a direction or path. And suddenly, an unanticipated event triggers change that we weren’t prepared for or can’t control.

In my case – this is change I triggered and I can control. But it’s still unsettling and disruptive. I know most of you are feeling unsettled right now too – because of the economy, which is out of all of our control!

Many agency owners are feeling stuck in a state of flux right now, when it comes to the economy. Every day an agency owner brings up the potential economic downturn and admits that they’re anxious because we don’t know if it’s coming, when it’s coming, or how bad it will be.

Let’s take control of this uncontrollable situation by adopting the best offense is a strong defense stance. In this solocast episode of Build A Better Agency, I am going to walk you through some things you can do to protect yourself IF a downturn or recession is coming. And even if it’s not – this will make you stronger as you enter the new year.

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:

  • How to prepare yourself and your agency for change
  • How to balance your client roster during an economic downturn
  • How to manage your agency finances during a recession
  • How to strengthen your biz dev program for an economic downturn

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:

Tools & Resources:

Nov 11, 2019

You are agency owners, not career keynote speakers. But that does not mean you don’t earn your living as a presenter. You present every day of your professional lives. You hold one-on-one meetings in your office and lead all-agency meetings. Some of you are speaking at conferences and tradeshows as well.

By sharing your expertise, teaching, and demonstrating that you know your stuff, you will create biz dev opportunities that start deeper in the funnel. It doesn’t matter if public speaking is a strength or a source of anxiety, it is a learnable skill where craft outranks natural talent.

My guest Michael Port has written six best-selling books including Book Yourself Solid and Steal the Show. He has spent the last several years developing and honing the company he co-owns with his wife Amy, Heroic Public Speaking (HPS). HPS conducts training programs for speakers of all walks of life. When I think about great public speakers that are commanding top fees for keynoting, almost all of them have gone through some level of training with Michael and Amy. But they also train people who will never step on a formal stage, but just want to present their ideas in a more compelling way.

The people who go through the HPS program develop confidence and the ability to command an audience. Michael joins us on this episode of Build a Better Agency to talk about the art and science of presentation. He explains how we can use it to serve our agencies, our teams, and our clients in bigger, better ways.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • You are presenting and public speaking every day
  • Why speeches are an unrivaled biz dev opportunity
  • Michael Port’s story, and the work he and his wife Amy are doing with Heroic Public Speaking
  • Why presenting is a combination of art and science
  • How mastery of public speaking will enable you to become a more effective agency owner

Ways to Contact Michael Port:

Nov 4, 2019

With so many people that have yet to join us on the show, I very rarely ask someone to come back on. But Tamsen Webster is an exception. You may remember episode 61, where Tamsen joined us to talk about speaking at conferences and tradeshows as a biz dev strategy. This time, we are going to take a different tack because Tamsen has been pretty busy since we last spoke.

Every day, I talk to agency owners who struggle to see what differentiates them from their competitors. They fail to recognize their unique reflection in the mirror. Tamsen has developed a methodology for identifying what sets you apart, which is one of many things that we cover in this episode of Build a Better Agency.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Why it is difficult for agency owners to recognize what makes them unique
  • Tamsen’s methodology for identifying what sets your agency apart
  • How to use Tamsen’s process internally and with clients
  • How Tamsen designed her system and why it works

Ways to Contact Tamsen Webster:

Oct 28, 2019

Every business is struggling to be seen and heard. They spend a lion’s share of their budget fighting to find an audience. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be that hard. They are often overlooking an incredible resource. Their own employees.

Employees can be some of the best advocates for any business; especially with the right system in place. They know the company inside and out, they talk to current and prospective clients about it and, if they love their work and their employer, they probably share that love when they get the opportunity.

What if you could amplify that critical voice for your clients and help them create a program that encouraged their employees to shout it from the rooftops?

Glenn Gaudet, the CEO of GaggleAMP, founded his company with this idea in mind. GaggleAMP helps companies get the most out of their social media efforts with solutions that help amplify their efforts through employee engagement and interaction.

In episode #209 of Build a Better Agency, Glenn and I discussed employee and brand advocacy at length. We talked about incentivizing employees to engage with their company’s social media, recognizing employees as influencers, using advocacy from raving customers and channel partners, and so much 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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • What employee advocacy is and what it looks like in practice
  • How to market employee advocacy strategy to employees and clients
  • Implementing and evolving employee advocacy programs
  • The myriad benefits of the different kinds of brand advocacy
  • Specific strategies to incentivize employee advocacy
  • Common pitfalls when approaching advocacy programs
  • The mission of Glenn’s company, GaggleAMP

Ways to Contact Glenn Gaudet:

Oct 21, 2019

Every year we partner with Audience Audit to conduct research that we know will benefit agency leaders. This year, we decided to re-visit some of the questions we initially asked in 2014 to see if there had been significant shifts. In some ways, the results showed a consistent trend and in some other areas, there’d been some pretty significant changes.

In the 2019 study we included clients from the US, Canada, Australia and the UK and there were over 1,000 respondents who participated.

In this episode we’ll walk you through some of the most significant ah ha moments in the study in terms of what clients value, how they view us, and the kinds of work they think we do best. We will also talk about some of the new questions around agency specialization and agency owner involvement in key accounts.

Listen in as Susan Baier, president of Audience Audit and I explore the insights and talk about the implications of this new research. We’d also like to invite you to join us on November 12th (if you’re listening to this in real time) as we walk folks through every single question and data point in a live webinar just for you!

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • What remained steady and what shifts we saw from the 2014 study
  • The three distinct audience segments we uncovered and how each of them view agencies
  • Why over 50% of all respondents work with an agency who is 200+ miles away from them
  • How you can get the complete download during the webinar on November 12th

Ways to Contact Susan Baier:

Oct 14, 2019

In the agency world, there are days where it seems like tomorrow will never come. It’s easy to get fixated on what is broken or what else needs to be done. There’s always one more tweak and THEN things will be good.

Actually, no matter where you’re at in the ebbs and flows of agency life, it’s all pretty good.

Even on your worst day, you have it better than most. The problem is, we often fail to realize that. We get tunnel vision digging ourselves out of holes and preparing for the next fallout when things are going well.

In this solocast of the Build a Better Agency podcast, I share the story of a conversation I recently had with a friend who just sold his agency. His perspective was so telling and for me, so inspiring.

My hope is that it will give you a fresh look at how to approach agency ownership, no matter what the day brings.

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 some agency owners fail to enjoy the ride
  • How to show gratitude and the impact it will have on your agency
  • How to recognize the privileges of being an agency owner or leader
  • Why it matters that you slow down and appreciate your role
  • Different ways that you can improve as an agency leader
  • How to articulate what your clients and employees mean to you

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:

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