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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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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
Nov 22, 2021

As part of our succession planning work, we have seen and worked with owners going through every stage of agency life. We’ve seen agencies evolve and dissolve and there are complexities along the way regardless of the journey. One of the most complicated relationships can be between partners, whether that be partners who own and run an agency together, or an agency owner who is transitioning to selling his agency to one or more employees.

In this solocast, we’re going to look at the important elements that make a strong partnership agreement. These documents can be created internally or developed with outside guidance but regardless of how it comes together, it must clearly define how all opportunities and challenges will be met as the agency moves forward. Think of it as a prenuptial agreement. You want to write it when things are good and the future is bright so you have a rulebook to turn to when things get difficult.

Agency partnership is a thrilling but complicated relationship. If you take the time to clearly define the rules of the game, you set a solid foundation on which the agency can grow. AMI is here to help you make the most of this adventure.

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.

Partnership Agreements

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Who benefits from a Partnership Agreement
  • The need to outline out the company is established and divided
  • If and how ownership percentages can change
  • The importance of spelling out each partner’s contributions and responsibilities
  • Why you need to specify how money is handled
  • What it means to have partnership authority
  • Outlining conflict resolution
  • The important clauses of partnership agreements
  • The need to include incapacitation, divorce, and death language in these agreements
  • Explaining the methodology by which you will define valuation
  • Defining how the business can be dissolved
Nov 15, 2021

As agency owners and leaders, we all want to succeed at the long game. We plan and work with the hope that it will lead to long-term success. But it can be difficult to hang in there when faced with uncertainty, and we constantly wonder which bets are going to pay off and when we need to pivot. Fear can paralyze us or force us to make decisions that undermine a potential payoff because it all feels a bit like a guessing game.

Author and keynote speaker Dorie Clark is a world-renowned teacher and coach. She’s been on the podcast before (episode 152) and returns with tips and insights for how to leverage the long game, based on her new book of the same title, to avoid a lot of mistakes created by this fear and uncertainty.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Dorie and I discuss a lot of tools that help build a successful long game. We talk about ways to build more breathing room into a busy life, the need to track progress, and how to recognize the indicators that you’re on the right track. We look at the importance of building the right support system, how to find more focus, and why it’s so important to acknowledge and celebrate the small successes along the way.

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 Long Game

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Defining and Creating “White Space”
  • The need to track progress
  • The indicators that create success in The Long Game
  • The importance of having people around you who understand your business
  • How and where to focus for The Long Game
  • Why it’s important to acknowledge the successes
Nov 8, 2021

Putting yourself in the center of a community is a powerful tool for any agency owner, but that just scratches the surface of what is possible — if you make one small tweak. Imagine putting your client at the center of a community instead of yourself. An ecosystem of businesses, experts, and tools, all designed to help your clients become even more successful. This shift allows us to completely redesign how many of us think about biz dev and how best to serve our audience. And this is also how we can keep leveling up without having to know it all ourselves.

As many of you know, community is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, which is why I was excited to talk with my guest, Pam Slim. Pam is a 30-year plus business veteran, coach, and author with decades of experience building communities. Her latest book, “Widest Net” is all about helping companies reach their audience. If you have ever caught yourself thinking, “I know my thing. I know my point of view. I know who I want to reach, but how in the world do I reach them?” then you should probably be reading Pam’s book.

Pam was also our guest back on episode 142 for anyone who wants to soak up even more of her brilliance.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency — Pam and I address the myth of the sole owner needing to hack their way through the wilderness, and instead, how to provide agency owners with a way to see themselves as part of a coalition striving to help 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.

client-focused community

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How you can show up as a strong member of the community.
  • How to embrace the ecosystem model because you are in it either way.
  • The benefit of using the community around your clients to define your niche.
  • How to get intentional about building your community.
  • The benefit of being the “weirdo” in the room.
  • How to select the right community, so it isn’t a competition.
  • Why this sort of strategic work helps you win long-term.
  • Why PB&J relationships are the gold standard.
  • How you can feel like you are everywhere to your clients and prospects.
Nov 1, 2021

The federal government and 36 of 50 states in the U.S. have research and development tax credits that many agency owners incorrectly believe our agencies are not eligible to receive. In reality, many AMI agencies take full advantage of these credits, sometimes earning back in excess of $100,000 a year. Needless to say, it’s important for your agency to explore whether or not you are eligible for these benefits because the impact on your bottom line could be a huge win.

Mike D’Alessandro owns a company called Research Tax Credits. For 14 years he has been specializing in research and development (R&D) tax options. These benefits are designed to stimulate the economy by creating competitive tax advantages for small business owners, including advertising and marketing agencies.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Mike and I take a deep dive into the R&D tax credits that many agencies mistakenly believe they are not eligible for. We look at the history and eligibility of these credits, how they are determined, and what parts of agency work would be covered. We talk about whether these credits carry forward and if you can retroactively apply. We also discuss if these credits can increase the likelihood of an audit and the process for applying. It’s a big opportunity that man

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.

R&D tax credits

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The history of the R&D tax credit
  • What does it mean to be eligible for an R&D tax credit?
  • What is a wage-driven credit?
  • The parts of the marketing business that is included under this credit
  • Does the federal credit carry forward?
  • Why wouldn’t someone utilize this credit?
  • Can you retroactively apply for these credits?
  • Does applying for this credit increase the likelihood of an audit?
  • The application process

Ways to contact Mike D’Alessandro:

Tools & Resources:

Oct 25, 2021

The conversation of diversity, equity, and inclusion and DEI policy creation is something on the minds of many agency owners. How to tackle such a delicate and complicated topic can be overwhelming and confusing. The fear of getting it wrong or not doing enough can lead to no action at all, which we can all agree does nothing to further the cause. But how exactly do we begin and how do we get it right?

Nikki McCord returns to expand upon the conversation we started in Episode 304 (“The ROI of DEI). Nikki consults people and companies on how to make committed changes, in both policy and behavior, surrounding the topic of DEI. She’s a passionate expert on the subject and the discussion is sure to inspire ideas and action.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Nikki McCord and I talk specifically about the concept of DEI policies and how to best approach them. Beyond that, we look at the way tiny shifts can make a big impact and why we need to give ourselves permission to make mistakes along the way. Beyond our own agencies, we also discuss how to incorporate these challenging conversations into our work with clients and vendors.

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.

DEI Policy

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What should be included in a good DEI policy
  • The difference between a policy and a statement
  • How to rethink your approach to a DEI policy
  • Tiny shifts that make a big impact
  • The importance of authenticity
  • How to guide clients through DEI conversations
  • How to get through the fear of making mistakes surrounding DEI

Ways to contact Nikki McCord:

Tools & Resources:

Oct 20, 2021

Laurence Lameche is a London-based real estate investor and coach who has mastered the art of buying properties through creative terms-based deals and cutting banks out of the equation. In this episode of the Smart Real Estate Coach podcast, Laurence shares how he was able to purchase three valuable properties in London for just the price of a football ticket, and he explains how to build a powerful network of connections in the real estate business even if you’re a shy introvert.

Resources:

Additional resources:

Smart Real Estate Coach Podcast Sponsor:

Oct 18, 2021

At Agency Management Institute, we are often called upon to help agency owners plan their next steps when it comes time to sell. This may lead to the owner wanting to hand the reins to a current employee that has proven to be the right person to take over owning and running the agency. There are challenges that the seller has to contend with, but there are just as many challenges, and mistakes, the potential buyer needs to keep in mind.

As an employee presented with the chance to take over ownership of the agency, it can be a daunting undertaking. To try and offer some guidance, I’ve identified the five most common mistakes that I’ve seen made by employees who are buying the agency from the current owner. We’ll look at the importance of pushing for a clear process and plan for the owner’s exit strategy and how to avoid miscalculating the risks. I’ll share some of the emotional challenges to expect, as well as the importance of tough conversations. Finally, I’ll explain why it’s not only helpful but necessary to put together a team that can help guide you through the transition period, and beyond.

Agency ownership is a thrilling undertaking. If the opportunity presents itself, you should absolutely give it serious consideration. Just be smart about the steps you take. AMI is here to welcome you to the adventure.

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.

Buying an Agency

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The need to push for a process and plan when buying an agency
  • The error in miscalculating the risks
  • The emotional challenges of agency ownership
  • The missed opportunity in tough conversations
  • The need to put together a support team
Oct 11, 2021

“Culture” and “Brand” are two concepts that are often thought about and discussed as completely different topics. We don’t often consider how one might not only affect but define the other. But the truth is, they are very much the opposite sides of the same coin, if that coin represents the calling card for your agency or your client’s company.

Agency owners and authors Mark Miller and Ted Vaughn have literally written the book on the connection between culture and brand. In examining the challenges and successes of both their own clients and research into other companies, they defined six patterns that define culture and the traits that make these patterns successful.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Mark, Ted, and I take a deep dive into these six patterns – or “layers” – and how come to define an agency’s success. We explore everything from different kinds of trust to the need to sometimes fire a rockstar employee. We look at ways to inspire an invitation to difficult conversations and why it’s so important for creatives to advocate for themselves. We even define the first step an agency can take on the quest to improve, fix, or define a company’s culture in a way that leads to a winning brand.

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 links between a winning culture and brand
  • Why culture is so important in a conversation about brand
  • Functional vs. relational trust
  • 6 layers of marque culture
  • How to tell if a problem is caused by a system or a person
  • Why creatives need to advocate for themselves
  • How agency owners can inspire a truth-telling environment
  • Where to begin on the journey to fix culture
Oct 4, 2021

There is no shortage of advice on how to be a better agency leader, but much of the advice out there is esoteric or theoretical. The ideas are grand, but a solid, tangible game plan is rare. Without clear steps to take, old habits and behaviors easily return before these new ideas have a chance to create lasting change.

Author Jonathan Raymond’s diversified background led to an interest in figuring out how leaders could grow their business in a way that was in alignment with their values. He has developed some interesting ideas and action plans for how to inspire your team to want to follow you.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jonathan and I take a pragmatic approach to leadership. We examine how to recognize when you’re undermining the team and how to create clear expectations. We explore a 5-step method for managing performance. And we discuss the link between personal and professional development. Becoming a better leader starts with a desire, but requires a plan of action. Hopefully, this conversation offers 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 recognize when you’re disempowering your team
  • The need to set clear expectations
  • A 5-step method for managing performance
  • Understanding the time limit on feedback
  • Why pattern recognition is important in agency leadership
  • The power of uncomfortable silence
  • Why personal and professional development aren’t different
  • 3 reasons why poor behavior isn’t called out
Sep 27, 2021

The world of neuroscience might seem like an odd place to seek out powerful marketing tactics, but there’s no denying that effective marketing isn’t just about being great creatively. Art might draw attention, but human nature and how our mind works is what inspires the buy. Understanding neuro-marketing and what triggers the mind of an audience can only improve the rate of success.

Dan Russell runs Vivid Labs, a conversion optimization agency that has developed neuroscience-inspired marketing strategies. He moved out of the service space so he could teach agencies and other businesses how to utilize these techniques for business growth and success.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Dan and I talk about the different ways neuroscience insights can be used effectively in marketing. We discuss how his team determines what tests to run that are both practical and ethical. Using real-world examples, we take a closer look at a few effects that marketing agencies absolutely need to know about and incorporate.

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.

Neuro-Marketing

Neuro-Marketing

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What is neuro-marketing?
  • How to determine what scientific tests apply to marketing
  • Ensuring tests are both practical and ethical
  • Why the physical world can trigger more effects than the digital world
  • Nuero-marketing effects agencies need to incorporate
  • The importance of video to increase conversion
Sep 20, 2021

No one needs to tell you that it’s easier and more cost-effective to keep existing clients rather than continuing to hunt and pitch for new ones. There’s an obvious need to genuinely nurture these relationships, but oftentimes this advice is more theory than tangible. It’s rare to find a clear game plan for creating lasting change that is simple, even if it’s not always easy. This conversation sheds light on that challenge and how to solve it.

Author and keynote speaker Shep Hyken is one of the world’s most well-known and well-respected experts on client service. He is dedicated to helping companies create customer experiences that bring them back over and over again. He does so with insights and gusto intended to challenge how you approach your crew, clients, and customers.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Shep and I discuss more than just the theories of creating good client relationships. In addition to talking about the need to create a sense of amazement and the downfall of settling for “fine,” Shep outlines the specific, tangible steps that can be taken to create a culture that is focused on the customer experience and how to make sure your clients won’t even consider looking anywhere else for what they need.

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

Client Service

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why it’s important to measure a client’s likelihood to return
  • How to create a sense of amazement with your customers and clients
  • The problem with “fine” in client service
  • The #1 culture-changing tool
  • A 6-step process for creating a culture that is focused on the customer
  • Precisely how to create an “I’ll be back” experience
Sep 13, 2021

At Agency Management Institute, we have repeatedly found ourselves in the position of helping agency owners figure out their exit strategy. Ideally, we’re talking about this many years before they’re ready to execute on whichever outcome makes the most sense for them and their agency. The typical scenarios are: Just making a fantastic living off the agency until you’re done and then closing up shop. Others want to sell to an outside buyer. But for many, the ideal scenario is to sell the agency internally to someone they’ve been grooming as a successor. This is often where we come in to assist.

Any sale is complicated, and everyone wants it to go as smoothly as possible. Which is why we’ve identified some common mistakes and the best ways to avoid making them. They’re all understandable and easy to make choices, but fortunately so are the fixes so you can just avoid them all together.

Whether you’re thinking of selling your agency in a year or it’s much further down the road, knowing what to avoid now is the best first foot forward.

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.

Selling The Agency Internally

Selling The Agency Internally

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The problem with gifting employees shares
  • The importance of hiring outside guidance
  • The need to fully structure the deal
  • The lack of an owner’s transition plan
  • The mistake of not being prepared emotionally
Sep 6, 2021

Creativity lives at the center of every agency, but finding, nurturing, and retaining the best fit creatives can feel like an impossible task. Someone with an impressive resume who interviews wonderfully can suddenly feel like a mismatch once they’re actually in the role. It can feel like a guessing game, which is especially daunting for such an integral part of the team and your agency’s success.

Jamie Roberts has been a creative at agencies large and small. She grew up on the art side of the business and realized that all creatives are not wired the same. They might have similar skills but where they live on the spectrum of that skill defines their strengths and weaknesses. With this knowledge, she identified five key traits that can help agencies find creatives, or better understand the creatives they already have.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jamie and I explore the spectrum of these five key skills. We discuss how understanding them can simplify hiring decisions that lead to long-term success for both the agency and the new employee while also giving more insight into how to best leverage your existing creative staff. I even put Jamie’s skills to the test with an off-the-cuff discussion on where she believes I fall on the spectrum of these five skills.

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 rethink the approach to creatives
  • Understanding creative traits on a spectrum
  • Responsive vs. deliberative adaptability
  • Abstraction vs. analytical curiosity
  • People vs. process agility
  • Collaborative vs. independent confidence
  • Broad vs. deep commitment
Aug 30, 2021

All agency owners strive to be great leaders but that can be a daunting task when there are so many things that demand attention on a daily basis. And understanding what defines a great leader and how to learn and implement those skills can be equally overwhelming. When it feels like the focus needs to be external on building the company and growing client relationships, time dedicated internally to processes and staff development is often rushed, minimized, or pushed to another day.

Author Deborah Coviello has studied what it takes for a CEO to elevate not only their companies but also their people for long-lasting impact. Defining an agency’s “True North” creates the guiding star to ensure the entire team is moving in the same direction. She also believes a focus on people development sets the foundation for the greatest success.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Deborah and I look at various elements that create a great CEO. We talk about the need for clear processes that have the future in mind, the importance of prioritizing proactive internal growth, and how any team member can be a high performer if you have the right conversation with them. We also discuss the insights an agency owner can gain by taking time away and why mentors and coaches may hold the key to a CEO’s 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.

Rethink Leadership

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The elements that make up a “CEO’s Compass”
  • How a company benefits from defining their “True North”
  • Why the right processes are critical to success
  • The need to rethink leadership to prioritize doing something proactive to grow your company internally
  • What are we doing that’s right and wrong for growing our emerging leaders
  • How to improve the way we give feedback
  • The importance of finding a coach
  • The insights gained from three words: continue, start, and change
Aug 23, 2021

As we continue the push into a post-pandemic world, many agencies are taking a hard look at how they approach business and what they want this new future to look like. Many are implementing long-term changes inspired by what the last 18+ months has taught them. Others have been inspired to make changes toward a more focused vision. Success with these changes starts with becoming crystal clear on what kind of agency you want to be.

In over 300 podcasts, I have never repeated or reposted an episode. Until now. Episode #100 entitled “Are You A Wonderbread Factory or An Artisanal Bakery?” is probably the single most common episode people mention when they bring up past episodes. The response has been so positive and consistent that it felt like a perfect episode to revisit as a guiding light toward defining your agency’s next chapter.

In this solocast, I discuss the spectrum of how agencies can do business, from the creative-driven, custom-designed artisan way to the numbers-driven, one-size-fits-all factory approach. There are pros and cons of both sides, and many agencies live somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. But having agency clarity about where you are and where you want to be is the surest way to ensure the kind of success you are striving for.

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 this topic seems more relevant today than when originally recorded
  • How agency focus sets up agency success
  • Defining the two ends of the spectrum of how agencies can approach business
  • The pros and cons of running a wonderbread style agency or an artisanal bakery
  • How to approach shifting your agency’s focus
Aug 16, 2021

An agency’s success or failure is reliant upon the owner’s leadership skills to a certain extent. There are many elements that ultimately create an agency’s legacy, but the strength of the leadership is one of the cornerstones that holds it all together. Most teams are built with people who have come up and through the agency world, so by the time they step into a leadership role, there’s a risk that they’re doing it the way everyone else has done it. If you want to have a next-level agency, it might be worth the effort to reexamine and sharpen your leadership approach.

Ryan Carey is a ranger-qualified army vet who now heads up White Label IQ, our presenting sponsor here at the podcast. His background and experience have given him unique insights into leadership that allow him to come at agency life with an inspiring perspective.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Ryan and I explore military-inspired leadership and how it can benefit agencies. These worlds might seem vastly different but they both share a need for clarity, communication, trust, respectful disagreements, and unflappable dedication to the team. We talk about all of these things, sprinkled with Ryan’s true-life stories from the front lines, with the hope of challenging and improving how you think about leadership.

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 need to ensure clarity on a client’s definition of success
  • Tips for avoiding micromanaging your leadership
  • The need for clear processes
  • Why it’s important to not get complacent, even when succeeding
  • Absolute vs Participatory Leadership
  • How to respectfully disagree
  • The importance of trust
  • Challenges of splitting-focus
  • Military experience that benefits agency success

“As you continue to develop a project with a client, you’ve got to continue to ensure it’s aligning with where they’re wanting to go because they’re learning too in the whole process.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET“In leadership, it’s easy to get into a micromanaging scenario, especially when it’s client-facing.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET“I think it’s very easy to become a line item on an expense report and not a benefit to the company.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET“The more that you build trust with people, the more that they’re going to be able to say something when it matters.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET“People can do amazing things and when you give them leeway and trust, they can take that very far.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Ryan Carey:

Additional Resources:

Aug 9, 2021

Whenever I fly, I wear a t-shirt that says “Be Good To People.” It’s a simple message that I sincerely believe in but the response to the shirt, especially during the pandemic, has been something I wasn’t expecting. It has inspired people to quite literally reach out and touch me with a pat of gratitude for the reminder.

We are overwhelmed, exhausted, confused, and scared, all things that can bring out the worst in people, so a reminder that kindness exists, is possible, and can feel almost revolutionary. The generous response to my previous solocast about anxiety has inspired me to take a closer look at the message literally stamped on my chest, in hopes of finding ways to expand on self-care in a way that more fully benefits our teams and clients.

In this solocast, I’m talking about the various ways we can be good to ourselves, our team, and the clients we serve. We’ve all been in survival mode and now it’s time to remember who and what we were surviving for. This is about relationship care.

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:

  • Recognizing the ongoing challenges created by the pandemic
  • A call to take better care of yourself
  • A reminder to reconnect with the people that inspire you
  • The need to think about your team
  • The power of learning opportunities
  • Tips for enhancing client relationships
  • Relationship care as a holistic approach
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