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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: 2021
Jul 26, 2021

Creating a solid tax strategy for your agency might not seem like the most exciting thing to think about but doing so has the potential to put a lot more money directly into your pocket. It can be daunting to try and understand all of the options available, especially when a lot of the COVID-related aid adds to the confusion, so having a solid tax advisor in your corner is more important than ever. But how can you make sure you’re getting the guidance you need if you don’t even know what questions to ask?

Craig Cody is a tax strategist and planner who has helped many AMI members better manage their money. His insights and guidance are hugely beneficial to any agency owner wanting to save money while also leveraging income and assets for personal and professional goals.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Craig and I discuss all things taxes. We look at COVID-related strategies that are still available. We explore surprising deductions to be found by better leveraging your home and how to get the most out of your relationship with your tax advisor, all with the goal of setting up you and your agency for the best possible financial 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.

Agency Owner Tax Strategies

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • COVID-related tax strategies that are still available
  • Understanding The Augusta Rule
  • How putting in a home pool can be tax-deductible
  • Knowing the difference between a tax strategist and a tax preparer
  • What to expect tax advisor conversations to look like
  • The Defined Benefits Program
  • Common missed opportunities in tax preparation
  • Questions to ask a new tax advisor
Jul 19, 2021

We all know how critical account service people are to the success of our agencies. It’s a tough job. Account service people must balance the needs of the agency, the internal team, and of course, the clients. A rock-solid account service person can help you retain and upsell clients, delivering a higher percentage of profitability on both counts. Creating a strong and dependable account services team and process is key to your success.

Taylor McMaster is a former agency owner who discovered what she loved most about the work was the account services side of it. This realization inspired her to start a company that outsources account service people to agencies with the goal of improving agency-client relationships and allowing agency owners to step back from the day-to-day so they can concentrate on scaling their business.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Taylor and I look at several different elements to building successful account services. We discuss how to onboard new clients, ways to ensure you’re hiring the right account services people, and making the most of client relationships by understanding what they want and need from your agency. Strengthening your approach to account services gives you as the agency owner the freedom to put your focus on building 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.

Account Services

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to onboard a new client
  • Why agency owners aren’t always great at client services
  • How to hire strong account service people
  • Keeping the relationship fresh with long-term clients
  • What clients want from your client services
  • How to merchandise a client relationship
  • What agencies get wrong in client services
Jul 12, 2021

We spent a lot of the last year steeped in worry. It was inevitable, given what we’ve all experienced. But even when we’re not facing a global pandemic — it’s easy to get caught up in your own mind, given our work. It’s the nature of the beast for problem solvers like us, working in an ever-changing industry, where our decisions and performance effect so many. Expected but exhausting. In that constant chaos, it can be especially difficult to remember to be grateful.

Author Kristi Nelson turned her journey back from Stage 4 cancer into a mission to remind herself and others of the importance for gratitude. Many of us have been on the receiving end of a wake-up call. The Covid-19 pandemic created that for a lot of people in every corner of the globe. Kristi’s message is all about how to be thoughtful and intentional as we move forward.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Kristi and I explore gratitude, with a particular focus on how it can affect and elevate agency owners and their businesses. We discuss how being grateful can assist problem-solving by reframing challenges as opportunities. We also look at how to show up as a leader who savors uncertainty, why it’s important to cherish connections, and what the “Golden Rule” gets wrong.

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.

Gratitude

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why it’s so easy to fall back into an unfulfilling groove
  • How being grateful can aid problem solving
  • Reframing uncertainty for gratitude
  • How to show up as a leader who savors uncertainty
  • Cherishing connections
  • What the “Golden Rule” gets wrong
  • How to find out what your team truly wants
  • Understanding liminality

Ways to contact Kristi Nelson:

Tools & Resources:

Jul 5, 2021

With the realization that this was going to be the 300th episode of this podcast, I unconsciously started to put an extraordinary amount of pressure on myself to create something that was fantastic and perfect. Agency owners live with an immense amount of pressure and expectation every day so this kind of thinking is normal. But that doesn’t make it healthy, helpful, or wise.

In this solocast, I’m going to talk candidly about the anxiety I sometimes create for myself when striving for a perfection that is unachievable. I’m going to invite you to look at all the different pressures you feel in your life and career in order to clarify which ones are real and which ones you’re creating through your own drive for excellence and some unreasonable expectations.

The truth is – our excellence comes from keeping a steady hand at the helm. It’s about the consistency and the tenacity we demonstrate by showing up every day. Our agencies are like ships and we are its captain. Our job is to pilot the ship to its next destination. There are always going to be storms that crop up, big and small. But we have weathered many before and we’ve got this one too. That’s our genius.

And, finally, I’m going to ask you to seriously consider the honest answer to this question: “No, REALLY, how are you doing?”

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 personal story about creating pressure to be excellent
  • Recognizing the dangerous expectations we set for ourselves
  • The importance of self-care as an agency owner
  • Why simply showing up can build to excellence
  • Why it’s important to be honest when answering “How are you?”
Jun 28, 2021

If there’s one thing every agency has to be able to do, it’s innovate. We are paid to be creative thinkers on command. We have to be able to generate ideas on a regular basis that serves both the agency and our clients. This can be exhausting and stressful to deliver consistently, especially because it’s usually only the agency owner or a handful of leaders who can do this work. What if everyone in the agency had the skills and confidence to be an innovative thinker?

Author Carla Johnson has studied the art and science of innovation. The research she’s done and the methodologies she’s built are both fascinating and super useful. She believes innovative thinking is both innate and teachable. It’s been an integral part of human nature since the beginning of time and it’s her mission to help reignite a passion for it.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Carla and I explore all things innovation. We give this buzzword a clear definition. We discuss mistakes made in trying to find creative solutions. We look at ways innovative thinking can be enhanced and taught, as well as how to create a culture of creative thinkers in 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.

Agency innovation

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Understanding the definition of innovation
  • Why innovative thinking is a skill we all have
  • Mistakes that keep meetings from being creatively rich
  • Is innovative thinking teachable?
  • Does groupthink help or hinder agency innovation?
  • Why adults are less innovative than children
  • The archetypes of innovative thinking
  • How to create a culture of creative, innovative thinkers
Jun 21, 2021

Culture has always been an integral part of any organization. We talk about it in different ways than we used to, but wherever people gather – they create culture. Often, that culture becomes one of the building blocks of an organization’s brand. But not always. The crossroads of brand and culture still holds a lot of untapped potential your agency can leverage both for yourself and your clients.

Theresa Agresta is a former agency owner who realized the cultural assessments she was using to build a brand created a whole different business opportunity that would allow her to dig much deeper into the connection between brand and culture. The fascinating work she’s doing through her company CultureTalk is something that could greatly benefit agency clients, as well as their own shops.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Theresa and I look at the ways culture can be used as a tool for agency growth. We take a deep dive into the definition of culture, while also exploring ways to change a company culture, use these insights to improve employee and client relations, and how embracing culture research can easily create additional revenue streams by enhancing what you can offer to clients and prospects.

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.

Brand and Culture

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The data used to study brand and culture
  • The gap between what is expected and what is tolerated
  • How systems aid culture-related conversations
  • Tools for changing a culture
  • How agencies are using culture insights to better their work
  • Getting over the hesitation of a culture review
  • Using the insights in regards to employee relations
  • Utilizing culture research outside of brand work
  • Creating AGI from culture assessments

“By measuring organizational culture, there are many different connected business challenges that you can start to solve for.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“Culture exists in the delta between what leaders say they expect and what they actually tolerate day-to-day.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“One of the critical things that a system, a framework, and a language give you is the ability to have a real conversation about culture.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“If you want to help an organization tap into who they are at a gut level and show up authentically, it all starts with understanding their culture.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“It’s about creating awareness and acceptance for the differences and appreciating the value that different people bring.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“Culture can be measured, it can be managed, and it can be led.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Theresa Agresta:

Tools & Resources:

Jun 14, 2021

As Stephen Woessner and I teach in our book Sell With Authority, it’s critical for agencies to use content to attract their right fit prospects. When it’s done well and consistently, it can give an agency an unfair advantage over all of their competitors. But what exactly does doing it well mean these days?

Author, speaker, and entrepreneur Joe Pulizzi is credited with coining the phrase “content marketing”. His focus is on teaching marketers how they can build a business by being helpful more than relying on more aggressive selling tactics. He brings a lot of passion and enthusiasm for the work that he hopes will inspire your successful game plan.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Joe and I discuss the various aspects of content marketing. We look at how it has changed, what is being done wrong, and the many ways to improve your content strategy. We also discuss exit strategies, the importance of building a community, and new ways to think about niche marketing.

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.

Content marketing

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What has changed in content marketing and why it changed so fast
  • What is being done wrong by many agencies?
  • The need for consistency
  • The importance of exit strategy planning
  • Can a generalist agency employ a content strategy?
  • Why you need to build a community
  • How to build patience into your lead generation
  • Niche marketing
Jun 7, 2021

Content is the cornerstone of any current agency’s ability to position itself as an authority, but many agencies struggle with knowing exactly how to actually create all the content they need for both their clients and themselves. Where do the ideas come from? What if the ideas seem too big or ridiculous? Is it possible to schedule creativity? How is the content leveraged?

Scott Ginsberg is an ultra-prolific creative strategist. He’s written 50 books, released 12 albums of his own original music, produced three films, given over 600 speeches where no two are the same, and he has worn a name tag 24/7 for over 20 years. (Yes, that last one is true.) He knows a thing or two about creating content that connects with audiences and he wants to share his insights with you.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Scott and I have a wide-reaching conversation about creativity, innovation, and content development. We discuss ways to compress time, build an inventory of ideas, reverse engineer content, mentor effectively, and systemize creative development. Hopefully, you leave encouraged to experiment and play in ways that help you become more of what you want to be.

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.

Content creation process

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to become more approachable
  • How to reverse engineer the content creation process
  • What it means to compress time in order to create content
  • The importance of building an inventory of ideas
  • Developing a content curation system
  • Ways to help employees figure out what they’re good at naturally
  • How to systemize innovation
May 31, 2021

To put it mildly, 2020 was a storm none of us saw coming and it lasted for much longer than we expected. Business as usual went out the window and everyone shifted to survival and then re-building mode. Now that we’re moving into a post-pandemic world, let’s explore some of the emerging agency trends that are impacting agencies today and will continue to play a role for the next 12-18 months.

I’ve divided the trends into categories like money, clients, agency owners, employees and tactics that are selling and we’ll go through them all, not just looking at the trends but how you can take advantage of them.

We’ve seen changes in our relationships with clients and our teams. We’ve been inspired to create new products to serve our partners. We’ve learned a lot about what we can do when forced to rethink everything and now we can use the lessons to create a stronger future for ourselves and our agencies.

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:

  • Agency Trends in 2021
  • How the pandemic actually helped many agencies find their footing financially
  • Why smaller agencies are being invited to punch above their weight
  • Location is suddenly irrelevant
  • Why RFPs have gone away for some clients
  • The need for pricing integrity
  • Understanding client-pressures post-pandemic
  • Struggles agency owners are facing
  • Pandemic-inspired pivots
  • Employee expectations that need to be addressed
  • New selling tactics
May 24, 2021

You have a simple choice when it comes to biz dev. You can chase after strangers or you can attract people who are drawn to you because of your expertise. They’ll come to know, like and trust you and when they’re ready to hire an agency, they’ll reach out. One of the best ways to position yourself as an expert is to be a published author. Many agency owners want to position themselves as an expert but can’t imagine how they’d actually write a book.

Returning guest Dr. Anthony Paustian owns a hybrid publishing company called BookPress Publishing. Stephen Woessner and I worked with Tony as we wrote and published Sell With Authority and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge for those of you wanting to write your book.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Tony and I tackle the many questions that first-time authors need to consider when developing their book projects. We discuss what authors should look for in publishers, writing coaches, and editors, as well as what to expect from distribution, the financial model of hybrid publishing versus traditional, and how to define the goals of your book.

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

Position yourself as an expert

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What goes into a book being good
  • The spectrum of getting your book published
  • Understanding hybrid publishing
  • What to expect from distribution
  • How to select a writing coach
  • A reasonable timeframe for completing a book
  • Working with an editor
  • Defining the goals of your book and how to leverage it to position yourself as an expert
  • How much to prepare before reaching out to potential publishing partners
May 17, 2021

I have repeatedly said that many agency owners have earned an MBA in emotional leadership over the last year and a half. It’s been exhausting, frightening, paralyzing, motivating, inspiring, and, at times, you’re simply doing whatever it takes to survive. You’ve done so with grace, authority, enthusiasm, and vision, but I also know that you’re tired and anxious about what’s coming next. The question becomes, how can we best manage and communicate our emotions for the good of our agency, team, and personal well-being?

Author and executive coach Dr. Roger Hall uses his doctorate in psychology to help business owners manage their thinking and in turn, manage their team. His background and expertise has given him insights and tools that we can immediately begin to employ in our emotional leadership.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Dr. Hall and I talk about the emotional challenges many agency owners are currently facing. We explore tools for better monitoring, controlling, and expressing these emotions and techniques for building self-possession and resilience. We also look at 10 habits for leaders who are both happy and productive, and tips for fast-tracking improvements.

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.

Emotional Leadership

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why emotional leadership mattered during the pandemic
  • Tools for thought monitoring, thought stopping, and thought replacement
  • Why it can be helpful to let yourself worry
  • How humans can literally smell fear
  • Techniques for becoming more self-possessed
  • How to become a better emotionally intelligent leader
  • 10 Habits of leaders who are both happy and productive
  • Tips for fast-tracking emotional improvements
May 10, 2021

You’ve heard me say it a million times. Most agency owners are accidental business owners. Whatever your agency’s origin story, most of us can remember the moment when we looked around and realized, “This is so much harder than I thought it would be and if I’m being honest – I am winging this.” In the beginning, we’re nervous about admitting our uncertainty but at some point, most agency owners are hungry to learn and willing to admit don’t always have the answer. But what if embracing the doubts we all have is actually a sign of great leadership?

Author and executive coach Marc Pitman has spent several decades building his knowledge base around growing strong leaders. His insights not only help agency and business owners become better leaders themselves, but he also shares ways to grow, build, and nurture future leaders throughout an organization.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Marc and I explore a variety of topics surrounding leadership and the need to make peace with your doubts. We discuss changes in leadership brought about by the adaptations required to weather the pandemic. We also discuss different kinds of leaders, ways to assess and clarify the kind of leader you are and want to become, and ways to inspire others as they work on their own 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.

Agency Leadership

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The changes in the leadership created by the pandemic
  • Four quadrants of agency leadership
  • What it means to be a focused leader
  • Some available assessments to offer insights into what kind of leader you are
  • The best ways to encourage others to grow into their leadership
May 3, 2021

The last year has been one for the books as an agency owner and the HR issues we’ve had to deal with have been off the charts! We’ve faced the pandemic, working from home, layoffs, furloughs, understanding what employee assistance was available for our people and been put in the role of mental health counselor to boot! There’s also been a call to build a more inclusive workforce during a time of incredible racial tensions. All of this has challenged us to truly think about what kind of an employer we want to be.

Molly Eyerman owns an HR consulting company that does a lot of work with agencies. She’s here to help us try to figure out how to navigate all of these new challenges so that we can be proud of the way we treat our employees and how we handle some of these hot topic issues in a way that benefits both our team and our clients.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Molly and I discuss a wide range of human resource related topics, including how to best embrace diversity, inclusion, and equality regardless of an agency’s size, the new demands of work-from-home policy considerations, and ways to create and implement boundaries as far as how employees discuss delicate topics and present themselves on personal social media platforms.

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.

Human resources

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What it means to be an agency invested in diversity and inclusion
  • The importance of looking at diversity in mentorship and internships
  • How to have difficult conversations within your agency
  • The proper boundaries for political discussions in the workplace
  • What is human resources allowed to dictate as far as employee expression outside of the office?
  • Things some agencies aren’t thinking about in regards to work-from-home policies
  • Some positives that have come from the demands created by the pandemic
  • Where to find information on requirements for remote employees working in other states
Apr 26, 2021

Every agency is going to have a vaccine policy. You have three choices – you can mandate the covid 19 vaccine, you can encourage it or you can take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and in essence, ignore it. But each of those choices is in essence a declaration of how you’re going to handle the question of vaccine in your shop. It will become your policy.

Given that truth, you should make a conscious decision and communicate it clearly to your team and clients. I have several agencies who have already had clients and prospective employees ask them a simple question, “is everyone at the agency vaccinated?” How are you going to handle it when you’re asked?

I’m obviously not a doctor or scientist but all of the available information indicates that COVID and the discussion around vaccines is going to be a big part of our shared awareness for at least the next few years. With that in mind, it’s important to make it clear where your agency stands on the issue.

In this solocast, I’m going to talk through the things you need to think about as you begin to approach creating your agency’s vaccine policy. There are basically three options: you can require, encourage, or ignore the vaccine. Each of these creates a series of questions that you as the agency owner has to be prepared to answer and I want to give you as much information as I can to guide your decision.

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.

Vaccine Policy

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The importance of having your vaccine policy in writing
  • The three choices around creating a vaccine policy
  • How no decision creates your policy unwittingly
  • The criteria for requiring vaccines
  • Limitations on what we can do to entire employees to get vaccinated
  • Questions to consider when creating your vaccine policy
  • Why this shouldn’t be a group decision
Apr 19, 2021

We talk about influencer marketing like it’s a hot new trend. That’s not quite right. Celebrity endorsements have been around forever. The difference is that celebrity is defined very differently today.

It’s a bit of the wild west and we’ve all heard the horror stories. That’s why many agencies and brands have shied away from influencer marketing. What if you could sidestep the risks while maximizing the credibility and trust that the right influencer can bring to our clients?

Jason Falls wrote his latest book Winfluence, Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand, to help agencies re-think this important opportunity. He’s been an agency leader for many years, owned social media properties, and created an influential blog in the marketing space. Jason believes that if we redefine who we think of as an influencer, we can change the game.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jason and I dig into his version of influence marketing. We discuss how we need to rethink what it means to be an influencer and why it doesn’t need the celebrity stamp that so many people associate with the word. Among other things, we look at the various ways influencers can work both online and off, where agencies miss the mark with these campaigns, and how to measure and track ROI for influence marketing.

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.

Influence Marketing

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why we need to rethink the definition of influence marketing
  • Examples of off-line influencers
  • Where agencies get influence marketing wrong
  • The correlation between influencer strategies and business driver goals
  • Ways that influencers are bringing audiences onto platforms owned by an agency or brand
  • The four key purposes of influence marketing
  • How to measure and track ROI for influence marketing campaigns
Apr 12, 2021

Trust. It’s always been at the core of running and leading your agency. If our teams don’t trust us, they don’t follow us. If our prospects don’t trust us, they don’t hire us. And if our clients lose trust in us, we lose them. The challenge is – how do you know if you’re trusted? You can’t just point blank ask. If an employee doesn’t trust you, they sure as heck aren’t going to say so. And even if you are trusted – how do you level up to an even deeper degree of trust with your team, clients, and prospects?

David Horsager has been studying trust for 20+ years. An author and international researcher, he has dedicated his professional life to helping people see and understand how building trust leads to business success.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, David and I discuss ways we can level up our trust. We talk about options for assessing and proving how much we’re trusted, and how to improve on any weak spots so that we can become more trusted leaders within our organizations and with 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.

Leadership trust

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The eight pillars for assessing leadership trust
  • Ways the pandemic helped humanize some CEOs
  • What lack of trust costs you as a leader
  • How to build a better relationship with an employee where trust is lacking
  • How to handle topics that you can’t discuss in a way that builds leadership trust
  • Ways to kickstart some trust in an organization
  • The importance of the word “how?”
Apr 5, 2021

In the agency space, we have to constantly be reinventing the wheel because everything keeps changing. By the nature of our business, we are always doing something for the first time which, by default, lends itself to having a nagging doubt now and then. In a world where it’s impossible to have all the answers, but also being a leader in an industry where you’re supposed to understand everything, it’s easy to fall victim to imposter syndrome. Fortunately, you are not alone and there are some fixes you can deploy.

Kris Kelso is here to help silence that nagging voice of doubt. An author and executive coach working mostly with entrepreneurs and doing leadership work, he has literally written the book on imposter syndrome. Kris’ book, Overcoming the Imposter is about silencing your inner critic so you can lead with confidence.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Kris and I discuss many aspects of imposter syndrome. We talk about its prevalence in high achievers and the underlying fear that it represents. We look at what it costs us as creative professionals and the many ways it can weaponize our gifts against us. And, perhaps most importantly, we’ll walk through some tangible reframing techniques that can quiet that inner critic.

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.

 Imposter syndrome

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why imposter syndrome is not gender based
  • The reason imposter syndrome is more prevalent in high achievers
  • The difference between self-esteem and self-efficacy
  • The underlying fear of imposter syndrome
  • What does imposter syndrome cost us?
  • The damage of “productive procrastination”
  • How imposter syndrome weaponizes our gifts against ourselves
  • How to quiet the inner critic
  • Helpful reframing techniques
Mar 29, 2021

Every week I get an email or three from an agency owner asking me if I have a contract template or some other legal document that they can just copy and use. My response is always the same. For a few hundred or thousand dollars – do not put your entire agency at risk. It’s dangerous and short-sighted for an agency to use someone else’s agreement as a template. They need to be built for your agency, your clients and your particulars. But when is a DIY approach acceptable? What, exactly, is a “done with you” model? And how can you determine when an actual attorney is necessary? Understanding the when, what and how of various legal tools available is vital to protecting your agency. The good news is that you can spend a little now to avoid paying a lot down the road.

As AMI’s go-to attorney, Sharon Toerek* specializes in working with agencies just like yours and mine. She understands the constraints and challenges of running a small to mid-sized agency and helps clients dodge legal bullets every day.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Sharon and I talk at length about ways agencies need to best prepare their agencies legally. We discuss a wide range of topics, including the need for a legal readiness audit, agency insurance, IP rights, regulatory issues, influencer marketing, freelance contracts, data privacy compliance, the legality of unsigned agreements, if DIY legal agreements are safe, how exactly the “Done with you” model works, and when you need to get an attorney involved.

*Please note, Sharon is here as an educator speaking to her experience and nothing she shares should be interpreted as legal advice.

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.

Legal tools

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The three different agency owner personas and how they approach legal decisions
  • What legal tools are available to you and why they matter.
  • How to audit your legal readiness as an agency
  • The need to review agency insurance
  • A look at IP rights and usage
  • Regulatory issues and data privacy compliance that need to be considered
  • Is there any value to agreements not signed by the clients
  • When DIY legal agreements are acceptable
  • How a “Done with you” model works
  • How to know when you need to get an attorney involved
Mar 22, 2021

It’s lonely at the top. While that’s a cliché, as agency owners we all know it to be very true. On those days when you’d sell your agency for a nickel, who do you have to confide in? On the flip side – when you land the biggest account in your agency’s history, who can you call who will be as excited as you are? Surrounding yourself with people who care about your success as much as you do is critical. No one gets owning an agency more than another agency owner. And no one gets owning a business more than another business owner. How do you surround yourself with people who genuinely understand your world and are in your corner?

Mastermind groups of various forms have been around for a long time. In fact, Agency Management Institute was founded with agency owner peer groups which are, in essence, a mastermind group. There are plenty of organizations that offer formal mastermind groups but you can also form your own. Either way, it’s essential that you have peers who will be your sounding board, tell you the truth when you don’t want to hear it, and will bend over backwards to help you succeed.

In this episode of Build A Better Agency, I want to talk to you about the value of these groups, as well as outlining several ways to ensure its success, including things to look for in a mastermind, understanding the difference between formal and informal groups, meeting structures to implement, the importance of accountability, and creating a safe space for facing crisis.

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.

Masterminds

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The value of a mastermind group
  • Four things to look for in a mastermind
  • Formal vs Informal mastermind groups
  • Models for successful masterminds
  • Ideal size of an informal mastermind group
  • The importance of accountability
  • Deal with crisis in a mastermind
  • How often a mastermind should get together

“What a mastermind does for you as a business owner is it gives you other people who have some shared experiences, some different perspective on those experiences, and also have your best interest.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“The first thing that matters when you’re thinking about a mastermind is to be in a mastermind with people who genuinely care about you as a human being and who care about you in terms of your business success. They are committed to you being…CLICK TO TWEET“I have often said, the best thing about being a business owner is, you’re accountable to no one. The worst part of being a business owner is, you’re accountable to no one.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“There’s great comfort in knowing that you can command everyone’s attention and they are willing to give you that time and attention.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“There are times when you don’t honor the exact agenda of the mastermind but, honestly, having an agenda is probably one of the most critical elements of whether or not this is going to work.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“The questions they ask me help me see with a clarity that I couldn’t see if I was doing it all by myself.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

Tools & Resources:

Mar 15, 2021

At AMI we preach the idea of building your wealth outside your agency, while you still own your agency. Sadly, many owners leave too much in retained earnings inside the agency and over time, they piddle that money away. Every agency owner deserves to profit from the risk they took to start the business and the sweat equity they’ve put into it for years. Agency owners often ask me about how other agency owners are building a nest egg outside of the shop. Most will consider real estate but rarely do they think about passive real estate investments. I want to make sure we change that!

Chris Prefontaine is a returning guest (episode 203) who talked in general terms about real estate investing last time. I asked him back to specifically talk about passive real estate investments. Speaking from personal experience, one of the beautiful things about this option is that you can generate a pretty remarkable return without you as the investor doing any of the leg work!

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Chris and I discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of real estate investments, especially passive partnership options. We talk about ways to vet these estate opportunities, what kind of investor would be ideal for this kind of deal, and the questions to ask when considering an investment.

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.

Passive real estate investments

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The three paydays of an active real estate investment and which two of those apply to passive real estate investments
  • What the payouts look like for passive real estate investors
  • How to vet passive real estate opportunities
  • Who makes a good investor in passive real estate
  • What questions to ask when faced with a passive real estate investment opportunity
  • Does it make sense to invest in multiple properties or a single property?
  • Specific financial requirements for being a passive real estate investor
  • How does this work from a tax perspective?
  • The trends that are happening in real estate investments
Mar 8, 2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic but many agency owners wonder how, exactly, it can benefit their shop. They get how it works but they think that either a) they don’t understand it enough to deliver on it for clients or b) they can’t afford the AI tools out there for agencies. The truth is – now is the time to experiment. Most agencies are at the infancy stages of learning about AI and how to use it to serve clients better. But we have to get up to speed or we will find ourselves left behind. The good news? It’s within your grasp.

It’s with these challenges in mind that I was inspired to reach out to RJ Talyor and have him on the show. RJ’s SaaS company, Pattern89, works with agencies and brands and improves their ad effectiveness and efficiency by measuring over 49,000 characteristics of a digital ad. With that data, they can provide insights on what’s working and what isn’t, as well as the predicted shelf life of any ad. Through their analytics, they’re also able to predict with over 95% accuracy whether or not a piece of creative is going to work.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, RJ and I discuss the many ways AI insights are quickly becoming a necessity for agencies of all sizes. We look at the specific data it can provide, as well as how an agency can begin to experiment while convincing even the most dubious of clients of its importance. We also talk about the way the creative life cycle is changing, how agencies approach AI wrong, and what is coming next in the world of artificial intelligence.

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.

AI for marketing

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The specific data AI for marketing can give to an agency
  • Why AI doesn’t undermine creative
  • How small to mid-size agencies are leveraging AI marketing insights
  • Why AI is quickly becoming a need-to-have for agencies of all sizes
  • How the creative life cycle is changing
  • How iOS 14 is changing the way marketing will work
  • Why the speed of change is disruption A/B testing
  • Ways agencies can begin to dip their toes in AI
  • Where agencies get AI wrong
  • What is coming next in the world of AI
Mar 1, 2021

Back in the good old days (pre great recession) agencies used research to make their work smarter and more effective. But it became a luxury we trimmed out as we had to squeeze budgets. As we emerged from the recession, we dismissed research as expensive and didn’t build it into our recommendations as often as we should. But what if we could benefit from the insights research provides without busting the budget?

This week’s guest Matt Seltzer has worked in several agencies in a research capacity. A couple years ago he started a market research firm specifically to partner with ad agencies to create more revenue streams and gather insight for themselves and their clients.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Matt and I talk about the many ways agencies of any size can utilize DIY research to build better pitches and client work. We discuss options for reducing bias, increasing response, and minimizing survey fatigue. We also explore ways to approach clients about investing in research, different ways to utilize the insights, and specific areas where agencies get research wrong.

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.

DIY research

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Effective DIY research options
  • The benefits of simple surveys
  • Why customer personas are helpful
  • The way to increase survey response
  • Ways to reduce bias in DIY research
  • Why clients appreciate research
  • How to avoid survey fatigue
  • How to approach a client about adding research
  • Different ways to use the research insights
  • Misperceptions that keep us from DIY research
  • Ways agencies get research wrong
Feb 22, 2021

One of the biggest bottlenecks in many agencies is that the agency owner is the only person who can develop strategies for clients or new business pitches. As you know, this causes a host of problems, not the least of which is then the agency owner can’t focus on doing his/her job. Most owners feel stuck – believing that strategic thinking is not something you can teach. But what if you could?

Adam Pierno has a long resume working with well-known agencies and brands. When his experience on the creative side led to a realization that there was no methodology that could help agencies bake strategic thinking into their business model, he put his research and experience into authoring two books on the subject and now helps agencies looking to enhance their strategic approach.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Adam and I talk about the necessity to expand an agency’s strategic thinking beyond one or two people. We look at specific ways to do this that can empower your entire team to think strategically. We also discuss the errors many agencies make in communicating strategy to clients and prospects and how to leverage strategic thinking as we begin to move beyond the pandemic.

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.

Strategic thinking

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to infuse strategic thinking throughout an agency.
  • Different ways agencies can approach strategy.
  • How to soothe the conflict points that can develop when strategy expands to the who team.
  • Specific ways agencies screw up strategy during a pitch.
  • The need to create a story connection between the strategy and the creative.
  • The place for strategy in pitching.
  • The importance of having a captivating storyteller share the strategy.
  • How to help a team become better strategic thinkers.
  • The need to document the steps of your agency’s strategic thinking.
  • The secret to making clients want to stay with your agency as we begin to move into the next normal after the pandemic.
Feb 15, 2021

Over the last couple of years, many agencies have started reaping the benefits of embedding an account executive in a client’s office. By that I mean someone from the agency team literally has a desk or office in a client’s business for a set amount of time every week. This trend was growing prior to the pandemic and actually held its own during the work from home period of 2020. Now that more agencies and clients have returned to the office, this becomes a very viable option again. In this episode, I want to talk about what this means, how to do it well, and both the risks and value of doing it.

As an agency owner, your brain might jump to several potential problems that make you leery of such an arrangement. Truth be told, there are several benefits for your shop and your client. If done well, this can be a huge win for you.

It takes a bit of a learning curve, as well as putting the ideal employee with the right client. But, when done correctly, you create a really great hook that makes it nearly impossible for a client to consider taking their business anywhere else. In the process, as the agency owner, you cultivate a better, stronger, more connected relationship with the client organization.

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 clients love embedded employees
  • How embedded employees guarantee that business’s growth
  • The dark side of embedding employees
  • How to protect yourself from having the employee poached
  • Ways to help your embedded employee stay loyal to the agency
  • The ideal employee to embed in a client’s office
  • The benefits to the agency of having an embedded employee

“Without exception, embedded employees are able to grow that book of business.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“You want an embedded employee to remember where they work and where their loyalties lie.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“An embedded employee should be someone who bleeds the agency’s colors.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“This is an opportunity for you as the agency owner to cultivate a better, stronger, more connected relationship with the business owner or CEO of the client organization.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“You are setting a really great hook with an embedded employee and it can be a fantastic thing for both the client and the agency.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

Tools & Resources:

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.”

Feb 8, 2021

Who is responsible for keeping the agency’s work on time and on budget? That is an oft debated topic among agency owners. At AMI we believe that a specific role (Project Manager, Traffic Manager, etc.) to keep everyone and everything on track is a luxury if you have fewer than 10 employees and by the time you’re at 15-20 employees, it’s usually a necessity if you want to keep your team and clients happy. But who you hire and how they go about implementing a traffic system is a challenge many agency owners struggle with.

Ben Aston is a self-taught digital project manager with over 15 years experience in the agency world. Realizing how difficult his own learning path was and how few resources exist for those interested in developing these skills, he turned his focus to training others on how to develop the craft of project management.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Ben and I talk about what a project manager does and how this role will help grow your bottom line. We get into the nitty gritty of what makes for successful project management, including defining the skills for an ideal project manager, injecting flexibility into planning, reframing time tracking, and solving the problem of the dreaded “scope creep.”

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.

Project Manager

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • At what size agency would a project manager make sense
  • What skills creates an ideal project manager
  • Why project management is such a challenge for a majority of agencies
  • How to recognize project management issues
  • The necessity for creative and craft briefs
  • Solving the problem of “scope creep”
  • How to inject flexibility into project planning
  • Defining negative scope
  • How to create effective templates
  • The need to reframe time tracking
  • Best practices for successful project management
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