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Build a Better Agency Podcast

Scale and grow your agency with better clients, invested employees, and a stronger bottom line, with Drew McLellan of Agency Management Institute.
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Now displaying: October, 2018
Oct 29, 2018

One of the challenges for all of us as agency owners and leaders is finding the balance of creating a relationship with our employees, but also being the leader and helping them recognize their blind spots, areas of growth and when they’ve messed up.

This requires the courage to have candid conversations with your team members. It’s never easy or all together comfortable, but to truly be a leader in our agency – this is not an optional skill.

I see the avoidance of these conversations when I’m on site with an agency, when I’m on a coaching or and when I’m with a group of owners, talking about their employees. We don’t address behaviors that we know are unacceptable or not up to par. We may joke about it, or hint at it, or even deal with it passive aggressively – but we don’t tackle it head on.

We hide behind silence, email exchanges, and even through text messages – all to avoid that face-to-face conversation.

I get it — you’re afraid of what your employees’ reaction will be, or what it would do to the agency if they quit. You feel as if you’re between a rock and a hard place. So you tolerate the behavior. You make your staff and clients suffer from the behavior. You risk losing employees and clients rather than addressing it.

And worst of all — you greatly diminishing your reputation as a leader because everyone around you is wondering why you’re letting it continue. And quite honestly — they’re wondering why they should follow the rules if others don’t.

The skill of having difficult conversations and course correcting your team is vital. And we as agency owners need to get good at it.

There may be a few of you who are really great at this. You give really honest, candid, specific feedback, and you’d do it early on when you first see the behavior, attitude or bad decision, not after it’s been happening for months and months.

But for the vast majority of you, this is not your gift, but if you think avoiding difficult conversations isn’t affecting your agency…you’re wrong. You’re absolutely wrong. This is a skill that you must own if you want to grow your agency in terms of profits, respect, and your people.

And that’s why talking through how to get better at having difficult conversations with your employees will be our focus during this solocast.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why employees become more engaged and committed when they receive honest feedback from you.
  • Why leaders who are rated the highest are the ones who most actively give and seek feedback from their team.
  • Why caring about your agency’s culture is about more than just “Beer Fridays”, the parties, or the fun. It’s about the level of candor you have inside your shop.
  • How not addressing bad behavior and course correcting an employee early on causes you to lose the respect of your team.
  • How to take and apply a sample script for starting off a difficult conversation with one of your employees the right way.
  • How to prepare yourself to have a difficult conversation with one of your employees.
  • How to apply the elements of having a difficult conversation — the pieces of doing this well.
  • How to focus on specific issues during the difficult conversation.
  • Why creating an action plan for correcting the behavior is not your responsibility – it’s your employee’s.
  • Why if you’re not having difficult conversations on a regular basis, or not celebrating your people by praising them, or coaching them so they get even better — that you’re not doing your job.

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

AMI works with agency owners by:

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

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

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

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

Oct 22, 2018

Client relationships is a frequent topic on this podcast. In this episode, we focus on what it takes to cultivate strong and mutually beneficial relationships with clients.

Dr. Mario Vafeas is on the faculty at The University of the West of England in Bristol. His work in agency-client relationships is the result of research, study and real-world experience.

He brings a pragmatic approach, backed by the data, into the conversation.

Buckle up because it’s a deep conversation, packed with takeaways to use in your own agency. Through deepening your relationship with clients, and providing the right kinds of ideas, training and other added value, you can really set agency apart, increasing your client and employee retention. You will truly be a trusted ally and co-creator with your clients and prospects.

Prior to joining the faculty at UWE, Mario spent 20 years in branding and design consultancy and several years in brand management at HJ Heinz and Harveys of Bristol.

As well as undergraduate and masters teaching, Mario is involved in knowledge exchange projects with SMEs, and research in the field of buyer-seller relationships and value co-creation.

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and a Fellow of the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing. He is also a DMA (West) Regional Council Member, and a Certified Digital Marketing Professional (Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute). 

What You Will Learn About in This Episode:

  • How to both share ideas with and learn from the client
  • Drawing from other industries to bring depth to your work in the clients’ industry
  • Why external agencies need to focus less on producing “stuff” and more on producing insights and big ideas
  • Communication with clients does not come with a template – each client relationship is unique
  • Why you get more business opportunities when you take time to meet and check in with clients
  • How to build relationships through coaching clients in best practices
  • Adding value through offering training opportunities to clients
  • Being proactive in making clients’ lives easier
  • How to behave less transactionally so clients believe you really want a relationship
  • How coaching hits all the big C themes
  • Why great work with clients is co-creative

Ways to contact Mario Vafeas:

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

Oct 15, 2018

Remember when it sounded crazy to remote employees scattered all over the country?  Or even crazier, in multiple countries? The truth is today, it’s becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Many agencies are choosing a hybrid approach, with a central office and staff in a brick and mortar location, but also with remote full-time and part-time workers. Some agencies are going all-in on remote work, ditching the central office and becoming, in the words of my podcast guest for this episode, “location-agnostic.”

I am intrigued by this, to say the least. I worked for and built businesses in an era when you went where the work was, whether you loved that particular center of commerce or not. But our business is changing, and the agency owners I work with are shifting into this new normal as well.

I had some big questions about becoming totally location-agnostic. How do you develop a strong culture when you all work in different places? How do the clients feel about it? How do you do the collaborative work that agencies are known for when you are scattered all over?

My guest on this episode is Brendon Craigie, co-founder and managing partner at Tyto PR. Tyto is a pan-European company with a fully location-agnostic staff.

Is building a healthy and happy work culture possible with an all-remote team? Brendon is finding the answer to that is a resounding “yes!” But there is more to his company than a remote workforce. They are intentionally flat, hiring well-seasoned creative “black belts” rather than having junior-level staff as worker bees. They are finding this to be a business model that’s rewarding to clients as well as the firm itself.

In his role, Brendon leads the agency and is heavily involved in counseling clients on strategic and creative matters. As an experienced global CEO, he also enjoys working closely with other CEOs on broader business and communications strategies.

Prior to launching Tyto, Brendon was the global CEO of Hotwire. As part of Hotwire’s founding team, he rose through the ranks to become CEO, and during his six-year tenure in the position he doubled the company’s size and repositioned it into a top 50 global challenger brand. Brendon’s achievements were recognized through multiple awards.

Brendon has worked across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. with a host of global names including Cisco, Microsoft, and Google. During his career, Brendon has helped to devise strategies and support campaigns for high-growth companies entering Europe to grow their brands and business. These campaigns often extended several years and included several early-stage companies, such as GoPro and BlackBerry, that have become multibillion-dollar successes, while others achieved the exits they desired. 

What You Will Learn About in This Episode:

  • The virtues of being a location-agnostic company
  • The logistics and financial implications of an all-remote workforce
  • Creating a culture in a virtual agency
  • Building a flat organization with seasoned, high-level, customer-facing staff
  • When you meet with colleagues, how to meet with a purpose
  • How to bring the best ideas forward through a “creative sprint” process
  • When and how a virtual workforce can get together in the real world – preferably for a mix of work and play
  • A cost/benefit analysis of having a staff of seasoned professionals
  • How to angle for that non-contested pitch to your ideal clients
  • Baking insight and research into the way you do business and how you get new business.

Ways to contact Brendon Craigie:

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

Oct 8, 2018

We are hip-deep into 2018, and the new tax law is fully in effect. It’s past time to get a handle on the implications of the new law for your business because we only have a few months left to do any sort of planning before year end.

Many agency owners are not exactly “numbers” people. The default, too often, is to let other people handle the money, then go off and focus on the creative or strategic side where we can play to our strengths.

On episode #157 of Build a Better Agency, I talk with CPA and tax advisor, Craig Cody. Cody definitely wants you to partner up with a professional when it comes to number-crunching. But in our conversation, he makes no bones about it: you’ve got roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. You can’t check out of your business’ finances, no matter how much you trust your internal or external advisors.

So, this is a great and very timely conversation. Did you know you can hire your kids and enjoy some significant tax advantages? Craig serves up a ton of tax tips, deduction hacks and best practices on everything from dispelling the myths about deducting a home office to paying for medical expenses, along with the basics of keeping up with the books.

A tax advisor – not just a tax preparer – can be a huge benefit for your bottom line. I had a great time talking with Craig. I learned a lot, and I know you will too.

Craig Cody is a Certified Tax Coach. His practice is rooted in tax planning. His philosophy is to find ways to legally reduce tax liabilities and keep more of what clients earn in their own pockets. 

As a Certified Tax Coach™, Craig belongs to a select group of practitioners throughout the country who undergo extensive training and continued education on various tax planning techniques and strategies in order to become, and remain, certified. With this organization, Craig co-authored an Amazon best-seller, Secrets of a Tax-Free Life. In addition to tax planning, Craig’s practice offers traditional tax services as well as remote CFO services. 

What You Will Learn About in This Episode:

  • The big differences between a tax preparer and a tax advisor
  • Why tax planning for entrepreneurs can make a huge difference in how you manage your finances
  • Passthrough income potential in Section 199 of the new tax code
  • How long it should take to gather P and L information for the previous month
  • Aspects of the new tax laws that you might not have considered
  • How frequently to be in contact with your tax advisor
  • How to find a good match for you in a tax advisor
  • The wrong kinds of tax deductions to take
  • Tax benefits of hiring your school-age children
  • Steps to take in order to avoid fraud and theft within your business

Ways to contact Craig Cody:

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

Oct 1, 2018

Building genuine relationships in our industry is one of the best parts of being in the business. The point is not to build transactional relationships that will end in a big “payoff” for you. When you focus on real relationships, you wind up bringing people into your life who you actually want to work with, and when you’re really fortunate, end up being good friends.

I firmly believe in this philosophy and the value of those relationships, both professionally and personally. These days, relationship-building often starts online.

James Carbary has raised LinkedIn updates and interactions to an art form. I wanted to explore his strategy and the benefits he’d seen in this episode. James generously shared some great tips on how to create good content that gets noticed and builds both engagement and relationships online. His LinkedIn prowess grows out of his larger interest in fostering genuine relationships.

One of the more fascinating projects James has going on are the B2B Growth Dinners he has launched.  It may be coming to a city near you and if so – be sure to participate. James’ idea was to create an opportunity for six strangers who all worked in tangential fields to have dinner and get to know one another. No agenda, no 30-second elevator pitch. He owns/runs an agency, but James’ passion and gift is as a relationship builder. So, we had a lot to talk about!

James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. He’s a contributor to the Huffington Post and Business Insider, and he also co-hosts the B2B Growth Show, a daily podcast dedicated to helping B2B marketers achieve explosive growth.

What You Will Learn About in This Episode:

  • The power genuine relationships have to enrich your life and build your agency
  • Repurposing content to fit the platform you are presenting it on
  • How to create a community of people
  • Working with engagement groups on LinkedIn
  • How to post on LinkedIn for maximum organic views and engagement
  • Why to have conversations over a meal
  • Using LinkedIn to define your brand and attract clients you want to work with
  • How podcasts help you build a relationship first, add value, and find ideal clients

Ways to contact James Carbary:

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

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