Figuring out which prospects align with your sweet spot and then doing the work necessary to earn their business are the difficult tasks of agency ownership. It starts with understanding what your sweet spot is. Who do you serve best? Where do you have a specialized knowledge that gives you a competitive edge?
As you have heard me say time and time again, for most agencies, being a general practitioner is neither desirable nor practical. It’s tough to compete on anything but the price when you look, sound and act the same as all of the other agencies out there. The brain surgeon is always more sought after and gets paid more than a general practitioner does.
That’s why I talk so often about positioning your agency. It’s how you find the right clients and focus on the right activities to attract and best serve those clients.
In this solocast, I spell out some of the options you could consider as you think about how to niche your agency. I walk you through the steps to take and areas on which to focus so that you can position your agency as a standout leader in whatever niches you are best suited to serve.
How do you discover your sweet spot clients? How do you hone in on your point of view? How do you demonstrate subject matter expertise that will win the business? In this episode, you’ll get some answers and perhaps come away with a few questions to ask yourself and your team as you move towards that goal.
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:
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.”
Artificial intelligence generates lots of interest and more than a little bit of fear among agency owners. How will machine learning, AI, and all that super-technical stuff change agency life? Will it make agency work irrelevant?
Not according to my guest, Paul Roetzer from PR 2020 and The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute. In this episode, Paul shared how his agency is leaning into AI because of the power and possibilities he sees in terms of agency efficiency and profitability. He makes a strong case that AI has the potential to make agency work more intelligent and even more human.
AI is one more way agencies can leverage new technology and new tools to serve our clients better, to help them grow their businesses, and to more profitably, efficiently, and effectively grow our own agencies.
I’m sure that some of you find this a little scary to even contemplate. But just like we’ve embraced all of the technologies before AI (the internet, mobile, programmatic media buying, etc.) we’re going to have to wrap our heads around this one too.
One of the best aspects of owning an agency is that we constantly get to evolve and re-invent ourselves to better serve our clients. AI gives us all the opportunity to scale and grow in ways we couldn’t imagine. AI isn’t about robots stealing jobs. It’s about the potential to eliminate the boring, repetitive tasks so we can spend more time thinking creatively.
Paul always sets his eyes toward the horizon. He’s continually wondering what will happen next in our industry and how he and his agency can be at the forefront of that. So, I wasn’t at all surprised when Paul and I were talking a few years ago and AI started to creep into the conversation.
In the last year or so, Paul has doubled down on that, not only in terms of what he’s doing with his own agency but also through his new organization, the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute. Later this summer, the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute is presenting MAICON, an AI convention for marketing leaders (use discount code McLellan19 to save $100 off the registration fee). Its mission is to make AI approachable and actionable for modern marketers so they can use this technology to build a powerful competitive advantage.
Paul has also written two books that I highly recommend: The Marketing Agency Blueprint and The Marketing Performance Blueprint.
For 95% of all agencies, referrals and word of mouth are the #1 method of gaining new clients. On the one hand, that’s great. It means your clients, friends, and peers love and trust you enough to introduce you to their friends and colleagues.
From staffing challenges to constant client demands, agency life can be bumpy. Our industry is in a state of constant change and that’s not going to let up anytime soon. For some owners, that’s exhilarating and challenging. For others, it just makes them bone tired.
Right now, most agencies are enjoying healthy profits, lots of new business opportunities, and a very difficult hiring season. Our employee base is changing and many owners struggle to find and retain talent that will help them grow and strengthen the agency. Clients are demanding more on tighter timelines and budgets.
How do we thrive in this ever-shifting environment?
In this episode, I talk with someone who has seen it all – Nancy Hill. She is a veteran of big box agencies, former president and CEO of the 4As, and, more recently, has started her own consultancy, Media Sherpas. This broad range of experiences has given her important insights into the current climate – the challenges and opportunities we face every day, especially when it comes to staffing and client relationships.
This has happened at my agency and I’m sure it’s happened at yours.
You start a huge client project and are excited to keep things rolling – both to protect your agency’s production schedule and to exceed the client’s expectations in terms of delivering on time and on budget. But then, you hit the roadblock. The cold silence you hear when you ask your client for the assets you need.
Whether it’s images, video, or copy points – you’re stalled until they cough it up. So much for on time or on a budget!
On this episode, I talk with James Rose about how to streamline the content collection process. Back when he was running a web dev shop, this was a major frustration for him and his team. So much so that his company developed what is now its core business: a content collection platform called Content Snare.
As content increasingly becomes central to much of agency work, solving the content collection conundrum is often the difference between profitability and charity work. Take a listen as James offers many no tech, low tech, and SaaS solutions to help us stay in the black.
James and his business partner, Mark Beljaars, started a single-product SEO software company in 2010. As they networked with other business owners, they heard countless stories about website projects that have gone wrong. They thought maybe they could help things go right.
With a passion rooted in software, they identified a few bottlenecks in the web design process. The worst one, which resonated most with other designers, was chasing down clients for their web content. That’s when Content Snare was born.
Clients don’t think about projects the same way we do – they don’t mean to be a bottleneck, even though they often are just that. Finding ways to keep content flowing ultimately helps us deliver an end result worthy of our efforts and our fee.