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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
Oct 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

Buying an Agency

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

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

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

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

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

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

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

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

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

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jonathan and I take a pragmatic approach to leadership. We examine how to recognize when you’re undermining the team and how to create clear expectations. We explore a 5-step method for managing performance. And we discuss the link between personal and professional development. Becoming a better leader starts with a desire, but requires a plan of action. Hopefully, this conversation offers a bit of both.

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to recognize when you’re disempowering your team
  • The need to set clear expectations
  • A 5-step method for managing performance
  • Understanding the time limit on feedback
  • Why pattern recognition is important in agency leadership
  • The power of uncomfortable silence
  • Why personal and professional development aren’t different
  • 3 reasons why poor behavior isn’t called out
Sep 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

Neuro-Marketing

Neuro-Marketing

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

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

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

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

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

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

Client Service

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

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

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

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

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

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

Selling The Agency Internally

Selling The Agency Internally

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

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

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

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

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

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

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

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

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

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

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

Rethink Leadership

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

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

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

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

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

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

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

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

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

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

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

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

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

Ways to contact Ryan Carey:

Additional Resources:

Aug 9, 2021

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

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

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

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Recognizing the ongoing challenges created by the pandemic
  • A call to take better care of yourself
  • A reminder to reconnect with the people that inspire you
  • The need to think about your team
  • The power of learning opportunities
  • Tips for enhancing client relationships
  • Relationship care as a holistic approach
Aug 2, 2021

There’s no denying that the call for diversity, equity, and inclusion has never been louder. In the middle of it all, agencies are trying to embrace change internally at the same time they are guiding clients on how to incorporate genuine representation, making us students and guides at the same time. It can be uncomfortable, awkward, and overwhelming, especially to dominant communities who have no real-world experience with marginalization.

Nikki McCord turned her political science degree into a career dedicated to influencing change and policy. When she started her own consulting firm eight years ago, she chose to focus on three things: strategic facilitation, board governance, and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). She does so from the crossroads of compassion and urgency.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Nikki and I dive into all the difficult topics, starting with why she didn’t want to do this podcast. We talk about the ways agencies get stuck when trying to diversify, the costs and ROI of DEI, how to handle the necessary discomfort of open conversations, and the roles we all need to play in order to create a better world for everyone.

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.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Where we get stuck in the pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
  • The costs associated with DEI
  • How to handle the discomfort of diversity discussions
  • The ROI of DEI
  • The need for dominant communities to be a voice for change
  • What to be thinking about in the quest for a diverse agency
  • The importance of management buy-in for DEI
  • How to begin a DEI integration
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
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