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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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Now displaying: 2020
Dec 28, 2020

For many agency owners systems is the S Word. We bristle at the idea of being confined. It feels like an attempt to stifle our creativity and ability to think out of the box. But if we’re honest with ourselves, there’s a lot of wash-rinse-repeat in our work every day. And without systems (which I translate to “the agency’s way of doing something) everyone develops their own way of accomplishing each and every task. Not only does that mean we are inconsistent at best but it also means that if that employees leaves, so does their tribal knowledge. This is a problem we can and should solve.

My guest for this episode is Josh Fonger, a Business Performance Architect and co-founder of the company, Work The System. The company is based on a book by the same name by Sam Carpenter and exists to help people implement the concepts. If you loved Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth, but wished he’d told you HOW to follow his recommendations, you’ll love hearing from Josh.

In our conversation, Josh outlines not only why systems are important but the specific steps you can take to build them into your agency, no matter how long your agency has been around or how you’re functioning today. While the work may not seem sexy, once the processes are in place, you’ll love the reduction of mistakes, the ability to scale and the increase in profitability.

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.

Business Systems

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Practical tips for how to create systems for your agency
  • Why processes actually create more space for creativity
  • How the tribal knowledge method can fail you
  • Examples of how documenting systems allow you to productize your service
  • How to get started when it all feels so overwhelming
  • The agency owner’s role in building systems
  • How to document processes in a way that your team will actually reference them
  • How to get everyone (including the company owner) to follow the process once it’s in place
  • Productivity tips for how agency owners can extract themselves from the day-to-day in order to concentrate on business development.
Dec 21, 2020

Here are three things I know every agency owner wants. 1) A shortcut to landing new clients. 2) A way to prove ROI for their clients’ marketing budgets. 3) A way to automate tasks around data that allow them to guide their clients in the right direction faster and more accurately. The good news is – we can get all of that from marketing automation. If we use it wisely and well.

Agencies are constantly working to find ways to help their clients attract right-fit prospects, stay relevant to them during their buyer’s journey, and shorten the entire sales cycle. We have many tools at our disposal to accomplish those goals and a sophisticated marketing automation system is certainly one of them. Many agencies have barely scratched the surface of what marketing automation can do for their own agency and for their clients.

When we don’t delve into the power of marketing automation, we’re relying on email marketing circa 2000. But in this era of clients demanding ROI stats for their marketing spend, we are missing out on what can be a very compelling tool that can drive revenue for both our clients and our agency! In fact, my guest, Rick Carlson suggests that marketing automation is an outdated moniker for the tool. He believes we should call them revenue growth systems.

Rick is the founder and CEO of SharpSpring and has seen how a marketing automation system can transform the way you connect and communicate with your leads and clients. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Rick explains how using your marketing automation system to its full extent can enable agency owners to multiply their efforts, expand their communication, and build deep meaningful relationships as they build their 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.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

A marketing automation system can help agencies shorten the sales cycle and strengthen their client relationships. Learn how to use them in your agency with insights from Rick Carlson about:

  • How to think about the tools in a marketing automation system through a different lens
  • Stand apart by having true one-to-one conversations at scale
  • Best practices for using marketing automation to generate leads
  • How agencies can create effective landing pages that align with their marketing goals
  • How agencies can communicate with their audience without burning them out
  • Different ways agencies can use marketing automation to bridge the gap between their marketing and sales teams
  • How agencies are leaving money on the table by not using their marketing automation system to its full potential

“Agencies have been called upon to help their clients fortify relationships with their existing customers, and they have been called upon to shorten the sales cycle. I think marketing automation tools play a role in both of those things.” @sharpspringCLICK TO TWEET“As marketers, the opportunities to spend money on leads are endless. But a disproportionate amount of time is spent on lead generation instead of nurturing the leads we’ve landed.” @sharpspringCLICK TO TWEET“The key to nurturing leads with a marketing automation system is truly knowing your customers’ business so you can apply the tools properly.” @sharpspringCLICK TO TWEET“A marketing automation system is about having a one-on-one conversation with your prospects at scale based on each individual’s interests.” @sharpspringCLICK TO TWEET“Marketing automation is an antiquated term. These tools are revenue growth platforms, and so many of them are geared towards the sales process as well.” @sharpspringCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Rick Carlson:

Tools & Resources:

Dec 14, 2020

Project management is a challenge for every agency, regardless of their size or tenure. Many agencies have a physical project board on a wall or are using Excel spreadsheets to try to keep everything in check. Unfortunately, these rudimentary project management systems end up costing agencies time, money, and even clients. But it does not have to be a source of frustration or profit evaporation.

If your agency has been resisting a project management system, it’s time to recognize that you are choosing to put your agency at risk. A shop without a more sophisticated tool and process for getting the work done on time and on budget will experience missed deadlines, scope create and frustrated clients. It’s not ideal from your team’s perspective either. No one wants to drop the ball or disappoint a client or teammate.

Agency owner Peter Coppinger knew all of this too well. His own shop, located in Dublin, Ireland was struggling to find a tool that would help them keep everyone in alignment and manage all of the details of every job without fail. That frustration led them to decide to design a project management tool of their own, Teamwork, which is one of the more popular options among agencies throughout the world. His software now powers more than 20,000 businesses.
During our conversation, Peter walks through the common mistakes agency owners make with project management and some best practices for overcoming them – all with the goal of profitably growing and scaling your 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.

 Managing Projects Effectively

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Pitfalls that many agencies face when it comes to getting the work done
  • Why agencies should be tracking and charging for every little piece of work they do
  • Peter’s best practices for managing projects effectively in the agency world
  • What characteristics agencies should look for in their search for a qualified project manager
  • Why effective project management is the key to growth and scale
“It’s easy to be a busy fool. As you scale your agency and add more people, you need to make sure you are scaling your profits as well.” @irlTopperCLICK TO TWEET“You’re not managing projects effectively if you’re constantly whipping people to get work across the finish line. You want your team to be self-reliant, and project management systems play a major role in that.” @irlTopperCLICK TO TWEET“Some customers are willing to pay more, and you need to have systems in place that can extract that value.” @irlTopperCLICK TO TWEET“People who are managing projects effectively are usually a rare combination of organized and good at dealing with people.” @irlTopperCLICK TO TWEET“Every agency has similar kinds of daily projects. If you don’t write down and organize the steps it takes to get them done, you will never be able to scale your agency.” @irlTopperCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Peter Coppinger:

Tools & Resources:

 
Dec 7, 2020

As I thought about this solocast and what I wanted to say to you, I came up with a big list. Year-end planning, appreciate your clients, get your biz dev kicked off for 2021. And then I realized you, like me, are on stress overload already and the last thing I needed to do was to add to your To Do list. Instead, the most helpful thing I can do in this episode is to acknowledge what’s going on, how you’re feeling and offer some support. So that’s what we’re going to do together.

You’ve been going full steam ahead at a breakneck speed for almost nine months. You’ve scrambled to replace lost business, get government assistance, shift to working from home and taking care of your team.

You’ve had to make some tough choices, have difficult conversations and yet you’ve rallied each and every time. But no one can sustain the pace and stress you’ve been keeping forever. It’s not humanly possible, even for you. Most of your agencies have fared well through the pandemic and financially, you’re in good shape. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to focus on giving yourself some respite. And that’s what this episode is all about!

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.

Stress Overload

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The overarching sentiment of agency owners in 2020
  • What agency owners can do to move past the exhaustion and heavy emotions of 2020
  • Why it is important to step back and reflect on the hardships and victories of the last year
  • How agency owners are dealing with stress overload in this fast-paced environment
  • Why agency owners are particularly affected by being “stuck” in the pandemic
  • Why agency owners need to put on their own oxygen masks now so they can help their families, employees, and clients down the road

“Whether you have been breaking all records or struggling to keep your head above water, none of this has been easy for anyone.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“I think it is really hard for us to admit that we cannot possibly keep up the pace and the level of stress we have been dealing with for the past nine months.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“We as agency owners are not a group of people that likes to feel stuck or have control taken away from us. I think one of the things that dealing with stress overload does is render us completely out of control.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“Being powerless is not something we are used to—or comfortable with. I believe that we have to take some of that control back.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“We as agency owners have to find new ways of dealing with stress overload. We need to put on our oxygen masks first so we can fight another day.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET

About the Author: Drew McLellan

For 30+ years, Drew McLellan has been in the advertising industry. He started his career at Y&R, worked in boutique-sized agencies, and then started his own (which he still owns and runs) agency in 1995. Additionally, Drew owns and leads the Agency Management Institute, which advises hundreds of small to mid-sized agencies on how to grow their agency and its profitability through agency owner peer groups, consulting, coaching, workshops, and more.

  • 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:

Nov 30, 2020

If you’re not new to the podcast or AMI, you know that I am a proponent of agencies differentiating themselves by finding a niche where they can develop a depth of expertise or a position of authority. It’s one of the core messages in the book I co-wrote with Stephen Woessner, Sell with Authority. Which makes Brent Weaver a kindred spirit! Brent Weaver shares our philosophy of niching down, and he joins me to talk about what he believes it takes to become an authority.

Brent is a former agency owner and now focuses on helping business leaders finding their niche. He currently serves as the founder and CEO of UGURUS, a business training and education company dedicated to helping business owners achieve freedom by owning their markets. His work focuses on helping clients overcome their dependence on referrals and word-of-mouth through developing thought leadership. If you didn’t get a chance to meet him during our previous conversation, check out Episode #66 where he explains how to turn a profit doing web dev.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Brent provides valuable insights about finding your niche. He shares his own experience on niching down so you understand what it takes to become the dominant player in a specific market segment, even in times of crisis. Learn how to find your market, own your market, and, as a result, scale your business.

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.

Finding your niche in the agency landscape

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The framework of Brent’s book, “Get Rich in the Deep End”
  • How finding your niche and serving that audience will make everything in your business easier
  • The difference between having a lot of clients in a niche vs. being an authority
  • Why niching down will enable your agency to thrive in good times and bad
  • How to find time to market your business amidst your chaotic schedule
  • What type of content is central to developing a position of authority
  • The correlation between niching and scaling a business
  • How niching goes beyond marketing

“Finding your niche and serving that audience will make everything else in your agency 10x easier.” @u_gurusCLICK TO TWEET“Having a select market and consistent deliverables makes it easier to sell. It also makes it easier to deliver results for your clients.” @u_gurusCLICK TO TWEET“It’s one thing to have a lot of clients in a niche. When you are the thought leader and the marketing authority in your niche, clients will start coming to you.” @u_gurusCLICK TO TWEET“When you’re a niche agency and times are good, you make more money than anyone else. And when times are bad, you get back on your feet quicker than anyone else because clients are not looking for a generalist.” @u_gurusCLICK TO TWEET“The more complex your business is, the harder it is to scale. Finding your niche simplifies the equation.” @u_gurusCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Brent Weaver:

Additional Resources:

Nov 23, 2020

Successful business development strategies are always a hot topic when I’m talking with agency owners. That was true before the pandemic, so you can imagine how often we’re talking about it now! Business development for agencies has made a 180 over the past decade. Have you changed the way you sell to keep current?

Greg Jacobs is the head of Strategic Partnerships at Schiefer Chop Shop, an Irvine-based brand transformation agency where he developed a unique recipe for successful business development strategies. He also led NASCAR’s unscripted content division and served as Head (SVP) of Monetization at Red Bull & Red Bull Media House. As you might imagine, with that background, he comes at prospecting for his agency in a very different way.

During our conversation, Greg walks us through his approach to creating successful business development strategies and offers up some suggestions for agency owners who are looking to hire a salesperson for their shop. It’s never too late to re-tool your own biz dev strategies and this episode is sure to point you in the right direction.

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.

 Successful Business Development Strategies

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Greg’s approach to building successful business development strategies and how agency owners can use it in their own niches
  • Greg’s transition from content creation to biz dev
  • How Greg mediates between biz dev and content creation teams
  • How to attract and retain the right biz dev talent
  • What Greg does to differentiate his agency and make it stand out from the crowd
  • How content plays a role in Greg’s biz dev efforts today
  • How newcomers can be successful in an agency biz dev role

“Content can be a universal language. If a brand has an interesting story and you can tell that story in a short form piece of content, the brand now has an asset they can use across their owned and operated channels.” @GregoryJacobsCLICK TO TWEET“The key metric of any piece of content is engagement. Will they click on it, will they watch it, and will they stay for a period of time?” @GregoryJacobs” @GregoryJacobsCLICK TO TWEET“There is no biz dev rep worth their salt that will do one of two things: A) Work on commission only. And B) Claim they can close business in less than six months.” @GregoryJacobsCLICK TO TWEET“Successful business development strategies give reps a window of time to figure it out, proper onboarding, some kind of retainer, and the ability to maintain relationships post-close.” @GregoryJacobsCLICK TO TWEET“Successful business development strategies are all about finding a balance between what you want to make and what fits your partner’s brand.” @GregoryJacobsCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Greg Jacobs:

Additional Resources:

Nov 16, 2020

It’s an age-old adage – books are a three-dimensional business card. In today’s vernacular (from the book Sell With Authority) a book is an excellent example of cornerstone content. Many agency owners I know are curious about how to become a successful author but have decided they’ll never have the time or space to actually write that book. Josh Steimle has helped many clients recognize that they actually can get that book written and it doesn’t have to take years or be a painful experience.

Josh is an agency owner and former guest (Episode #182). As his agency (MWI) matured and his partners were running the day-to-day operations, Josh decided to explain what it takes to become a book author to grow their businesses just like he had done for his agency.

During our conversation, Josh explains how agency owners can write a book that demonstrates their expertise and allows them to step into their authority position. He then breaks down the book writing process to make it faster, less cumbersome, and very doable for the busy agency owner who wants to learn how to become a successful author.

This is the episode for you if you’d like to add the title “author” to your list of accomplishments. Josh busts many myths and helps the listeners chart a course to getting that first draft done!

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.

 How to Become a Successful Author | Build your agency’s authority position through authorship

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 in bold.
  • How to write a book and use it as cornerstone content
  • Why a book is a strong way to tie your thought leadership and content creation efforts together
  • How to become a successful author so you can build your agency’s position of authority.
  • How Josh helps business owners navigate the book writing process
  • Why being an author and having a book escalates your agency’s growth and creates new opportunities
  • How being an author can actually shorten your sales cycle
  • Different ways you can use storytelling techniques to write a business book
  • How to organize the content/expertise you already have into an outline for your book

“Thought leadership has a lot of potential, and there are so many different places to publish and promote our content. A book is the glue that binds all of our content creation efforts together.” @joshsteimleCLICK TO TWEET“There are three hard parts to writing a book: getting started, finishing it, and everything in between.” @joshsteimleCLICK TO TWEET“If you have tossed around the idea of how to become a successful author, it is easier than you think. A book helps agency leaders propel their businesses in directions they don’t normally get to go.” @joshsteimleCLICK TO TWEET“We’ve had potential clients call us and say, ‘we read your book, we want to work with you, send us a contract.'” @joshsteimleCLICK TO TWEET“Even if it’s a bad book, it takes so much work for agency leaders to get a book done. That is why you need a process for how to become a successful author.” @joshsteimleCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Josh Steimle:

Additional Resources:

Nov 9, 2020

How are clients thinking about and reacting to both COVID and the recession it triggered is on every agency owner’s mind. Will our clients go dormant? How are they approaching 2021 budgets and plans? Because we know this is vital intelligence for you, we decided to make that the focus of the 2020 Agency Edge research project. You’re going to find the data insightful and a relief.

The Agency Edge research series is a collaboration between AMI, Audience Audit, and Dynata. Audience Audit’s Susan Baier joins me to walk you through the highlights of the research findings and what you should do next, based on what we learned.

We believe the insights will help you strengthen your relationship with your current clients, dodge some potential landmines, and navigate your biz dev prospecting with more success. After you listen to the podcast, be sure to grab the 30-page executive summary from the show notes.

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 are clients being impacted by COVID and the recession

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Findings from the 2020 Agency Edge Research Study
  • How agency owners are feeling as they deal with the impact of COVID and the recession
  • The 3 distinct segments that capture agency owner sentiment in 2020
  • How the agency relationships of respondents have been impacted by COVID and the recession
  • What clients want out of their agencies during COVID and the recession
  • Why the data from the latest research study paints a more optimistic picture than we’d feared
  • New opportunities for gaining market share in 2020
Nov 2, 2020

It’s an age-old discussion. Should an agency specialize and focus on specific niches or should they be a generalist? If you’re familiar with AMI or have read the book I co-wrote with Stephen Woessner (Sell with Authority), you know that I believe there are some huge advantages to claiming your authority position and being a specialist. You don’t have to take my word for it – in this episode, I am going to show you some data to make the point.

But, even if you choose to remain a generalist, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a rock-solid sales strategy that keeps your pipeline full and attracts your best-fit prospects. It’s going to take longer but you can get there.

In this episode of Build A Better Agency, I want to walk you through the stages of an agency’s biz dev evolution and the potential power of holding a position of authority so that prospective clients hunt you down and ask if they can be your client.

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/

Agency Owners | Should your agency niche down and specialize?

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why agencies who specialize have a distinct advantage when it comes to sales and retention
  • Why referrals shouldn’t be the only way you grow your agency
  • The goal today for agencies is to be sought after
  • The evolution of how agencies sell
  • The importance of developing thought leadership and expertise within a niche
  • The research data behind how and why agencies get hired
  • How to carve out a position of authority and sell from that position
Oct 26, 2020

Thought leadership is one of those buzzwords that has been so overused, it has almost been rendered meaningless. But as Stephen Woessner and I preach to agency owners in our book, Sell with Authority, when done well for the right reasons, being an authority can drive significant revenue for your agency. Stephen’s agency, Predictive ROI, decided they wanted to quantify the value of thought leadership so they engaged Susan Baier (Audience Audit) to do some research to answer the question “is there an ROI to being a thought leader?”

Creating unique, relevant content targeting a very narrow niche is time-consuming. Is there a payoff? How does it impact both new sales and retaining clients? Does it influence the sales cycle? How do people define what is and isn’t a true authority?

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Susan and Stephen join us to share the data that came out of the research and the implications that data has for us as agency owners, both as we think about our own biz dev but also how we advise clients about their own thought leadership efforts.

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 | The ROI of thought leadership for agencies

Agency Owners | The ROI of thought leadership for agencies

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How agency owners can use data to measure the value of thought leadership
  • The origins of Susan and Stephen’s research about the ROI of being an authority
  • The research methodology Susan used for the ROI of thought leadership study
  • What Susan and Stephen’s study uncovered about people’s attitudes/beliefs toward experts in their field
  • The distinguishing characteristics that others use to determine if someone truly is an authority
  • How referrals are impacted by someone’s position of authority
  • The big takeaways of the study on the ROI of thought leadership and how to apply them in your agency
Oct 19, 2020

After this year, I think agency leaders can all rightfully claim their MBA in leadership! With the recession and COVID-19 rewriting our plans for 2020, we’ve all been challenged to step way outside of our comfort zones. And yet, I believe we can all get even better. How can we level-up as leaders and make sure our team is aligned and bringing their best to the job?

My guest this week, Chad Carden, is on a life mission to improve the way leaders interact with their teams to create greater engagement and better results. His style is very results oriented, but it’s balanced with a goal of helping everyone on the team do their best work and feel good about the contribution. This head and heart combination lines up nicely with how I know agency owners think about and care about their team members.

During this conversation, Chad and I discuss the different ways we can ramp up for success as we build momentum into the 4th quarter of 2020 and head into 2021. Chad outlines how we can show up as better agency leaders, transform our internal environments, and drive results. We all know that when everyone is happily rowing in the same direction – good things happen!

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 2020 has forced agency leaders to level-up their leadership
  • How agency leaders can carve out time for their people and build stronger connections without taking too much time out of the day
  • What agency leaders can do to make professional development a consistent part of the day-to-day
  • Why agency leaders should be focused on creating a sense of clarity, alignment, and purpose within their teams
  • What agency leaders can do to win the day and maintain the agency’s course to success
  • How agency leaders can inspire their teams to work better together
Oct 12, 2020

Creating content is both a huge opportunity and a big challenge for agencies. How do you elevate your efforts so that the content is actually meaningful to the audience and attracts prospects? How do you properly price your content efforts so you get paid fairly? If you’re looking for good writers – what are the clues that they’ll be able to do the work? All of these questions affect your bottom line. Luckily, there are principles you can follow to ensure your content creation is on-point, whether you are outsourcing writers or doing everything in-house.

My guest for this week’s episode is Steve Pockross, Owner and CEO of Verblio. Steve brings more than 20 years of startup, Fortune 500, and nonprofit experience to his role at Verblio. As CEO, he applies leading marketplace and SaaS principles to create an industry-leading content creation platform with 3,000 writers supporting thousands of clients with their digital marketing.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Steve joins us to talk about trends in content creation. He explains what agency owners can do to work better with outside writers and breaks down the traits you should look for in prospective writers if you want to build out a content creation team of your own. Whatever route you choose to take, Steve’s experience will provide you with insights to take full advantage of the content revolution.

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:

  • Current trends in content creation
  • How we can work better with outside writers
  • What agency owners should look for in writers as they build out their own writing staff
  • How to achieve quality at scale
  • How the agency landscape has changed since COVID hit
  • How content is being refreshed and repurposed to create an immediate impact for clients
  • How we will consume content differently in twelve months
Oct 5, 2020

A.I. As agency owners and leaders, we understand what it is and what it does, but we haven’t quite figured out the best way to use it in our own agencies for ours or our clients’ benefit. Many still believe it’s something inaccessible or unaffordable. But, A.I. can transform our deliverables, change the ROI we deliver to clients, and make us even better at what we do. Today. At an affordable price.

My guest for this week’s episode is Neil Sahota, a professor at UC-Irvine in California. Neil is a specialist in artificial intelligence marketing. He was an IBM Master Inventor and is currently doing some astounding work as an A.I. Advisor for the United Nations. Neil authored the book, Own the A.I. Revolution, and is one of the foremost expert on emerging technologies as they relate to business strategy.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Neil joins us to share his journey and technical expertise. He explains what agency owners can do to harness the power of artificial intelligence marketing so we can use it in ours and our clients’ favor. He also walks us through some of the most progressive A.I. tools marketers are using to communicate with their audiences more effectively.

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.

Artificial Intelligence Marketing | How agencies can use A.I. to communicate more effectively

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How we as agency owners can harness the power of artificial intelligence marketing and use the technological disruption in our favor
  • How to use A.I. to get data and use it in your client interactions
  • What tools agencies can use to leverage data and turn it into ROI
  • Where agency owners should look for guidance on what A.I. can do and how to do it
  • What inspired Neil to write his book, “Own the A.I. Revolution”
  • Neil’s perspective on the ethics of A.I. in marketing
Sep 28, 2020

As agency owners and leaders, we have 90 days to put 2020 to bed and get ready for 2021. To help you prepare, I’ve created a To Do list for every agency owner to work through in the 4th quarter. Use this checklist to dodge the landmines and give your agency a leg up for the new year.

In this episode of Build A Better Agency, I’ll walk you through the To Do list I’ve built out based on what I call the four critical components of a profitable and growing agency. They are leadership, biz dev, getting it done and managing the money.

With some focus in each of these four areas, you can go into the new year with confidence that your agency is ready. The To Dos won’t cost you a dime, but they will cost you some time and attention. Don’t wait until December to start executing on this list. Start today!

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/

Agency Owners | Your To Dos for the 4th quarter

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What agency owners should be doing between now and the end of the year
  • The four critical components of a profitable and growing agency
  • What we can do to replenish ourselves and our teams after all that has happened since March
  • Why this crisis is a great opportunity to level-up our teams
  • How to get our finances in check so our agencies are profitable going into 2021
  • What we can do to improve our project and client management processes
  • How to incorporate our new biz dev tactics as permanent pieces of our biz dev strategy
Sep 21, 2020

Ongoing professional development is a challenge in most agencies. It’s tough to gather the right tools/resources, some agency owners aren’t sure about how to make it happen and for most the biggest challenge is making the time. And yet we know that one of the critical elements of our agency’s ongoing success is that our team has to keep getting better. I am a firm believer that professional development is a shared responsibility, which means your employees should do some of it on their own time and on their own dime. However, creating a culture of ongoing skills development and contextual learning is vital to stay ahead of the pack. And it’s not as hard as we might think.

My guest for this episode is a longtime veteran of the advertising industry. From print production and creative services to leading employee development within HR, Cecilia Gorman earned her stripes at agencies and brands large and small – most notably Y&R, Oakley, and Innocean. She currently consults on manager development, helping creative-minded companies strengthen the communication, leadership, and effectiveness of managers at all levels.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Cecilia joins me to talk about what it actually looks like to build a team of lifelong learners. She explains how agency owners can integrate professional development into their culture and create an active learning environment that impacts their clients and their team members alike. That not only serves your clients well but dramatically impacts retention and employee satisfaction. Everyone wins.

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 | Creating a culture of active learning in your agency

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The number one thing that gets in the way of professional development
  • Why agency owners need to make professional development a part of the culture
  • How some agencies are carving out time for professional development, and when is the best time to invest in employee growth and development
  • What managers can do to create an active learning environment
  • How we can use storytelling to get more buy-in to our culture
  • The importance of developing self-awareness on top of technical skills
  • Four key skills that agencies should never neglect
  • Cecilia’s background in the agency world, and how she transitioned into professional development coaching
Sep 14, 2020

Many of us have earned our MBAs in leadership over this past year. As we wrap up 2020, we have some ground to make up and we can’t do that alone. We need to inspire our teammates to rise to the occasion, overcome their personal speed bumps, and build momentum as we drive to the end of the year. Elise Mitchell’s experience running agencies and coaching business owners provides actionable clarity on how we get there.

Elise Mitchell started Mitchell, her PR firm back in the nineties grew it to a seventy-person shop before selling it to Dentsu in 2013. What she loved most about the agency business was building young leaders so she built a leadership training program over the last several years. She works with emerging leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs, agency leaders, and a variety of others.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, I pick Elise’s brain about how we, as agency leaders, can get the most from our teams during these critical months. Elise’s wide range of expertise can help us inspire and coach our team to a new level of greatness.

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

Agency Leaders | How to become a more effective agency leader

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Elise’s transition from agency owner to leadership coach/consultant
  • How agency leaders can better lead their teams through change
  • Why agency owners should acknowledge that it’s okay not to have all the answers
  • Critical mindset shifts that enable us to find opportunities in times of uncertainty
  • How to bring your team through change when everybody is not on board
  • How to empower your employees by helping them discover their own insights
  • How to become a more mindful leader and avoid succumbing to burnout
Sep 7, 2020

They say that the only thing we fear more than public speaking is death. That’s some pretty deep seeded fear! On top of the fear, many agencies want to leverage speaking as part of their biz dev strategy but there are so many questions. How do you get in front of the right audience? How do you capture email addresses from the stage? How do you convince event organizers that you have something of value to offer? The good news is – it’s not as scary or as hard as it might appear.

We are itching to get in front of our sweet spot clients so we can demonstrate value, step into a position of authority, and walk away with opportunities to make a sale. But results driven public speaking does not happen without a plan. You can get in front of an audience but are they the right ones?

When it comes to public speaking as a biz dev tool, Grant is an expert. He is the founder and CEO of TheSpeakerLab.com, a training company for public speakers. He is also the best-selling author of “The Successful Speaker.”

Grant coaches professionals of all skill levels with the biz dev techniques he uses in his own speaking engagements. He also teaches how to market yourself as a speaker and find the right event and audience for your goals.

Listen to the episode, and learn how to get on the right stage, in front of the right people, so you can demonstrate your expertise and walk away with opportunities to land some business.

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 | How agencies can use public speaking as a biz dev tool

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Grant’s background in public speaking and how he developed his expertise
  • How to use public speaking as a biz dev tool
  • Why public speaking is a great way to step into a position of authority
  • How a business development mindset can change your approach to public speaking
  • How to identify natural speaking opportunities in your niche
  • How to differentiate yourself and stand out from the other speakers in your vertical
  • The common mistakes speakers make with booking and how to avoid them
  • How to engage promoters and event planners
Aug 31, 2020

Agency growth isn’t easy and it isn’t a given. It’s not because agency owners don’t want to build their agency to be sustainable, scalable, or sellable down the road. It’s because they consciously or unconsciously avoid putting systems and processes into place. Instead of having a “your agency name here” way, every one of your team members has their own way of serving clients and getting the work done. When you’re five people, that’s tolerable. But once you get past ten employees or so, that breaks and you are stuck. Want to get unstuck?

As long you allow everyone to work in their own way and there’s no standardization, there’s a ceiling for how much growth and scale you can achieve. Systemizing your team’s workflow and putting new processes in place can get your agency unstuck.

David Jenyns believes deeply in the relationship between systemization and agency growth. After rolling out new systems and processes within his own agency and witnessing the powerful results, he organized the experiences into a new book called Systemology. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, David shares some of the key lessons and techniques from his book so we can apply them in our own agencies and achieve unprecedented growth.

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 Growth | Putting systems and processes into your agency

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How agency growth is hindered by a lack of systems and processes
  • How David mastered the application of systems and processes in his own shop
  • What David believes are the mandatory systems and processes for all agencies
  • How to use David’s “Critical Client Flow” system
  • Why your systems and processes cannot be dependent on the agency owner
  • How to get your team members to embrace and appreciate new systems and processes
  • What characteristics and personality traits we should be looking for as we look for our system or process champion
  • The outcome and benefits we can expect to see from implementing new systems and processes within our agency
Aug 24, 2020

There’s no doubt that covid is going to leave its mark. For most of us, it’s the most disruptive event of our lifetime. The question is – what are those lasting marks? In this solocast, I’m going to walk you the changes that I think are inevitable. Some of them are short term and others will be around for many years. The good news is – it’s not all bad news!

We’re going to look at changes that will impact your staffing, your pocketbook, the work you do, what clients are demanding, and how your work will be measured.

While we’re not completely out from under covid’s crunch, I am already seeing agencies pivoting into these changes and reaping significant rewards for being out in front of the evolution. I want to make sure you’re able to react quickly and fend off the risks and capitalize on the new opportunities.

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/

Agency Owners | Your agency in the post-COVID world

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What we can expect to see in the short and long-term as we sail out of the COVID storm
  • How agency owners should navigate the post-COVID landscape
  • What agency owners can do to address the changes that will impact their cash flow
  • How agency teams can and should change in the post covid world
  • Why the work week as we know it will never look the same
  • How the pandemic’s effect on mental health is going to impact your agency
  • How to deal with skittish clients during the recovery period
  • Why COVID is a huge kick in the butt to get out there and sell
Aug 17, 2020

We all have experienced the membership economy. Disney+, Dollar Shave Club, and a wide variety of meal prep kits delivered to your door. But, does it work in the B2B or service delivery worlds? When we talk about the membership economy, we are talking about something much deeper than the transactional value of memberships and subscriptions we pay for each month. It’s about how we are treated and cared for by the businesses whose programs we join. As we think about how to strategically guide our clients – this is a concept we need to understand.

Robbie Baxter is an author and one of the foremost experts on the membership economy. She has written two books including The Forever Transaction and her earlier book, The Membership Economy. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Robbie explains how the membership mentality benefits a business and its clients, and she walks us through some of the challenges as well.

Is it a viable option for your agency or some of your clients? I think the answer might just surprise 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.

Membership Economy | Looping your agency into the membership economy

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The framework of Robbie’s books and teachings
  • How the membership economy has changed the way we look at our business model
  • Why the subscription religion is taking over all industries
  • How the membership model translates in the B2B space
  • Why membership is still a viable option if you are an artisanal bakery
  • How to get your clients on board with a membership model if it makes sense for them
  • The common obstacles we may run into while trying to roll out a subscription service within a client’s organization
Aug 10, 2020

Prior to the economic downturn in ‘07-’08, I worked with a lot of agency owners who were very adamant that they would never outsource any of their services. Then the recession hit. Agencies were forced to trim their payroll and job-out projects to 1099s and other partners. Today, 99% of the agencies I work with have a hybrid business model that incorporates some type of outsourcing. When done well, this is actually a benefit to your clients so the question becomes how can you make this work in your agency? Brian Gerstner joins us in this episode of Build a Better Agency to explain how we can build and maintain strong partnerships that work well for all concerned.

Brian Gerstner has over twenty years of experience working with agency owners across the globe. He currently serves as the Creative Services Director for Huebner Marketing and the presenting sponsor of this podcast, White Label IQ. Brian offers a unique perspective on working with freelancers and outsourced service providers because he understands the nuances that influence these working relationships as both an agency creative director and the guy who heads up an outsourced resource.

Like most relationships, making it a rewarding experience for everyone takes work, commitment, and consistent communication. Listen to Brian’s tips and learn how to incorporate outsourced labor into your business model in a way that serves everyone well.

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 | Smart outsourcing for agencies

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How agency owners can be a good partner to their outsourced partners and vice versa
  • How to pick the right outsource partner for your agency’s needs
  • What outsource partners should bring to the table to improve the workflow
  • How to manage communication with your partners under a compressed timeline
  • How White Lable IQ demonstrates technical expertise to people who aren’t technical
  • How to know when it’s time to pull the plug on a partnership
  • How to set clear expectations with your outsource partners
  • Why outsourcing is a great way to try before you buy
  • How to disclose your outsource partners to your clients
Aug 3, 2020

This may be the most unorthodox episode of Build A Better Agency to date. When I met Amira Alverez, who helps agency owners and leaders really harness the power of the subconscious mind, I was intrigued and invited her to be a guest. But then she asked if she could turn the tables on me and do a coaching session with me – live – and we’d let all of you eavesdrop in on the session.

I’ll admit, I was anxious about it. I didn’t want the episode to be about me. But Amira flipped the script and takes us all through a live-action case study using her methodology, with yours truly as the subject. She stops and coaches along the way and in the end, it’s a brilliant look at how we are all the biggest detriment to the success we’re capable of achieving as agency owners.

Amira Alvarez is the founder and CEO of The Unstoppable Woman, a global coaching company helping entrepreneurs, empire builders, athletes, creatives, agency owners, and rising stars in all fields achieve their dreams and goals in record time. Before Amira got clear on her goals, she was making $135k, but only a short while later, she started producing a seven-figure income that she’s been able to sustain to this day.

Amira helps agency owners figure out what they want, and what’s in the way. I encourage you to join in on this unique journey because you might have a breakthrough as well. Follow along and work through Amira’s process with us—it may provide you with clarity in areas you have struggled with for years.

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:

  • Amira’s entrepreneurial journey
  • A live-action case study using practices from Amira’s success methodology
  • How we as agency owners can own the truth about what we really want
  • How to get clear on your big, audacious goal and make a plan to execute it
  • Why a timeline is such a huge factor in your ability to achieve your goal
  • How to understand your subconscious mind and self-image
  • Tactical strategies and mindset shifts you can use to get out of your own way
Jul 27, 2020

As agency owners, we are constantly searching for new ways to harness the power of persuasion and trigger an audience’s buy-button on behalf of our clients. Understanding what’s happening inside the consumer’s head and what drives their behavior is where that effort begins. We’ve always worked to understand how audiences in the past, but what if we could leverage data and science to crack the code and target the decision-making part of a prospect’s brain?

As a neuroscientist and an agency owner, my guest Patrick Renvoise bridges the gap between science and marketing so agency owners can understand what makes different audiences tick.

He has taken an entirely new approach to persuasion that enables agency owners to better recommend marketing solutions to their clients by explaining the science behind them. It is one of the many reasons Patrick co-founded SalesBrain, the world’s first neuromarketing agency, where he currently serves as the Chief Persuasion Officer.

In this episode, we’ll explore the science behind human decision-making and how we can harness that for our agencies and our 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.

Agency Owners | The science of marketing with Patrick Renvoise

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How the brain reacts to persuasion
  • The role of the primal brain in decision making, and how to reach it
  • The six stimuli of the primal brain and how to leverage them in your work
  • Why logical and emotional messaging is not enough to impact your customer’s decision
  • How to position your agency against all of the other agencies in the landscape
Jul 20, 2020

In my 250th (man, how times flies!) episode of Build a Better Agency, we look at the next set of client and employee-focused trends from the 2020 Agency Trends Report, picking up where I left off in episode #245, which was me walking you through the first half of the trends. The back half of the report covers everything from employee retention and happiness to the changing needs of your clients as they respond to current events. I am hoping these trends will give you a better idea of what we can do to adapt to this complex economic climate while protecting the health of our agencies.

Every summer, I consolidate the trends that I see every day in the 250+ small to mid-sized agencies we serve and distill them down for you so you can plan for these evolutions in our industry.

With everything going on right now, it is hard to dedicate the necessary time and mental space to focus on running your agency. But, paying close attention to the health of your agency and the trends that will impact its health, is more important than ever before. We have to carve out of the time to protect our businesses and I am hoping that taking a look at these trends will help you do that.

The State of the Agency 2020 will provide tons of insights to push through these difficult times and help your clients do the same.

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/

Agency Leaders

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why agency leaders had to make concessions due to employment shortages and how that trend is shifting
  • How to regain control of your agency while maintaining employee retention and happiness
  • How to take advantage of the expanded talent pool created by the pandemic
  • Why our clients are looking to get a bigger share of wallet from their existing customers
  • How agencies can capitalize on the need for cause and social marketing
  • How agencies are stepping over the line and diving into sales strategies with clients
  • Why clients are seeking out brand activation
  • Best practices for embedded employees
  • How we can help our clients create and manage private communities that are loyal to their brand
  • New areas where agencies are making great money
Jul 13, 2020

Most agencies do not have a reliable sales strategy. They either rely on referrals or they employ what I call the feast or famine methodology. Neither strategy actually delivers consistent, profitable prospects or new clients. There’s a new, better way to sell for agencies. I’m a huge believer in an agency owning a position of authority and using it to make sales easier, faster and more profitable. That’s why Stephen Woessner and I wrote a book on the subject! And it’s why I wanted to invite Michelle Prince onto the podcast.

Michelle is a best-selling author, public speaker, self-publishing expert, and CEO/Founder of Performance Publishing Group. She offers a unique perspective on thought leadership to agency owners who are looking to establish a position of authority within their niche. She believes that authoring a book is the strategy of choice.

In fact, Michelle says, “you can’t spell authority without ‘author,’” and while writing a book is certainly not the only way to build your thought leadership position, it is a very effective option. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Michelle shares her process for becoming an authority by focusing on authorship and publishing as a means of bringing significant value to your audience.

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

Agency Owners

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What being an authority looks like and how to get there
  • How Michelle’s experience working for Zig Ziglar shaped her approach to building authority
  • The power of putting yourself out there as the subject matter expert
  • Why writing a book can help build your thought leadership and establish your position of authority
  • Why you have to claim your authority no matter how many agencies do what you do
  • How to leverage the power of authority
  • Why backstory is so important in the digital age
  • How to build your entire thought leadership platform off of a book
  • How you can use your thought leadership platform to generate multiple revenue streams
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