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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: 2022
Sep 26, 2022

What do you think of when you hear about Disney? Fireworks, castles, and happy families all probably came to mind for a moment. But you probably didn’t think of dishware — and we’re not talking about those cups from the 90s with Lion King characters on them that were in every family’s kitchen cabinets.


Today’s guest, Alvaro Melendez, knows brands deeply in a way that most of us could never even imagine. If you think you know the core of what makes a brand who they are, think again. Alvaro has been developing and using machine learning to measure brand awareness or “Brand Love” for years to help companies, both big and small, understand what makes people connect with them.

In this episode, we discuss how Alvaro uses technology to help brands reach a bigger audience. He speaks about how to advertise effectively, how DEI is imperative for brands, and how creativity and technology go hand-in-hand in brand innovation.

And, if you’re still wondering why Disney is defined by dishware, you’ll just have to tune in to the podcast to get your answer.

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 awareness

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How Alvaro and his team are using machine learning to make brands trackable
  • Why organic social is the best way to advertise and promote your brand
  • How machine learning has taught major brands things they never knew about themselves
  • What the PPAI branding framework is, and how to use it to identify major brand metrics
  • How smaller agencies can learn from the experimentation of big brands
  • The importance of making DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) a huge part of your brand identity
  • Why creativity and storytelling must still be people-centered and collaborative in an automated world
Sep 19, 2022

What makes an employee want to stick around at your agency? Every year since 2014, we’ve been doing the research and compiling it into our Agency Edge Research to help agency owners get to the bottom of how to maintain employee satisfaction.

We expected certain things like financial compensation and work-from-home flexibility to be most important this year. Still, we were surprised to find many other desires shining through that have nothing to do with money. This year, Susan Baier returns to help me break down our findings.

In our analysis, we’ll highlight three categories that most agency employees fall into and how their needs, wants, and levels of loyalty differ across the board. Each group has their own unique way of viewing their role in the agency, how they want to be cared for, and what’s missing that would make them want to stay. We’ll talk in-depth about each group and how we can best address their concerns to boost employee satisfaction.

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.
employee satisfaction

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What is the Agency Edge Research Series, and what agency-specific issues does it address?
  • What questions do we ask agency employees when compiling the research?
  • The three categories that most agency employees fall into when looking at employee satisfaction
  • The most important things that employees feel are lacking in the agency culture
  • Where millennials stood out more than other age groups in certain categories
  • What are the driving reasons behind an employee choosing to leave an agency?
  • How to build loyalty in your agency and take care of employees
  • How to identify employees who might be at risk of leaving your agency or agency life altogether
Sep 12, 2022

Are you making yourself irrelevant in your agency? We’ve been talking a lot lately about how important it is to have systems and processes in place so you can work less and get back to doing the parts of agency ownership that you love. But if you or anyone in your agency becomes irreplaceable, you will be stuck in your 60-80 hour work weeks.

This week, our guest Jesse Gilmore gives us a thorough breakdown of how to identify single points of failure in an agency—Hint: it’s often the agency owner—and how we can create a better flow that helps everyone work together more successfully. When we give our employees the tools they need to work effectively and delegate with other team members, our whole workflow improves no matter who’s out of the office that week.

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.
single points of failure

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to identify single points of failure in your agency
  • If you’re the single point of failure, how do you make yourself more irrelevant?
  • Why removing single points of failure is vital for scaling your business
  • How to create systems and processes that aren’t cookie-cutter solutions
  • How to carve out time in your already busy schedule to put systems in place
  • What is the difference between a bottleneck and a single point of failure?
  • Timing out changes to your agency’s systems and processes
  • How removing single points of failure can improve agency culture
Sep 5, 2022

If you’re in a creative role at your agency, you’re probably familiar with receiving creative briefs that just don’t measure up. Instead of getting inspired to do great work, you’re left wondering where to start or what the point of the project is.

If you’ve ever created or pitched a brief, on the other hand, you’ve probably worked from a template or simply checked off the boxes of the bare minimum — it happens to the best of us!

This week, I’m interviewing Tim Brunelle, a creative director with decades of experience in marketing and advertising. Over the years, he has seen hundreds of creative briefs that span the whole spectrum between gold and garbage.

When our brief falls flat, it won’t inspire our creative minds to do great work. In this episode, Tim challenges us to think bigger and better rather than checking off the boxes and reading from a sheet of paper in our briefing meetings. When we think creatively about our creative briefs, we get a wealth of inspiration in return.

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.

Creative Brief

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why creative briefs often fall flat for creative teams
  • Why brief-makers should care about the project just as much as the creative team they’re hiring
  • The two core functions of creative briefs
  • What the pipeline of the creative briefing process should look like
  • How to mentor and inspire creativity across teams to collaborate on the briefing process
  • Why location is important when discussing your vision
  • Determining when a creative brief is necessary to inspire a team to do ground-breaking work
Aug 29, 2022

When you’re running an agency, you know you will not have it forever. While your goal could be to sell it eventually, you must consider retirement, career pivots, or plain old ownership fatigue as part of your succession planning strategy.

Most of us aren’t thinking about what’s happening 3, 5, or even 10 years down the road in day-to-day agency operations. But, it’s very important to understand how your decisions today could impact the future value of your business. Today’s solocast covers everything you need to know about what you should focus on to increase your valuation and why it matters to start thinking about your succession planning strategy right now.

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.

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.
Succession planning strategy

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why your agency isn’t as valuable as you might think
  • The importance of thinking toward the future when making current agency decisions
  • The recipe to increase your agency’s valuation when it’s time to sell
  • Why profitability and where it’s coming from matters
  • Why you should be making yourself irrelevant as your agency grows
  • How agency culture plays a role in your succession planning strategy
  • Why you should avoid “gorilla clients” that make up too much of your AGI
  • Where else you should invest your money outside of the agency
Aug 22, 2022

Now that we’ve discussed what systems and processes are, the tools we can use to implement them, and how to integrate them into team culture, let’s talk about what happens when we start to use these processes as we scale our agencies.

This week, Juliana Marulanda of ScaleTime shares her 20+ years of knowledge with creating systems and processes in agencies and how it frees up more time to do what we love. We discuss how to get your agency unstuck from bottlenecks in productivity, reduce day-to-day chaos, and, most importantly, how to stop leaving money on the table from disorganized management.

Featured by Forbes and Entrepreneur, Juliana helps uplevel businesses into lean, mean, profitable machines. On average, she and her team create ways to free up at least 30 hours per week for her clients so they can have successful agencies that run without them. Agency owners can find themselves saying, “I do what I want, how I want, whenever I want — now, that is freedom.”

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.

Systems and Processes

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to free up more space in your business for creativity
  • How to create systems and processes that work whether you’re in the office, hybrid, or 100% remote
  • The clearing of the storm after you establish systems and processes in your agency
  • Where money is being left on the table without proper procedures in place
  • The trajectory of emotions agency owners experience as they change their day-to-day
  • How Juliana helps agencies wrap their heads around management, HR, and hiring challenges
  • The importance of creating culture in your agency and why that affects day-to-day operations
  • How to get unstuck if you’re stuck in a loop of unchecked chaos
Aug 15, 2022

When running an agency, efficiency is key. While we would probably prefer to focus on any other task, establishing effective systems and processes is imperative to our agency operations. The systems we create and teach our team members will ultimately define our day-to-day, client satisfaction, and employee retention.

This week, Marquis Murray of Ditto will share his knowledge on implementing agency operations adjustments into our team culture. Whether it’s project management software, a well-organized Excel sheet, or simply improving team communication across the board, Marquis knows exactly how to work with agencies to identify where they have the most room for improvement.

When everyone gets on the same page and knows exactly where they belong and what is expected of them, the whole team can focus less on who’s doing what and more on what’s important to their specific role. It doesn’t need to be complicated or high-tech, but it does need to be sustainable, scalable, and repeatable so your team members can do what they do best, effectively.

Marquis Murray is the CEO and Founder of Ditto, a systems and processes consultancy for organizations who need help creating clarity around the work done inside their companies. Partnering with companies like Asana, HubSpot, PandaDoc, LogicGate, and Kanbanize allows him to offer some of the best in class solutions for clients.

His goal is to eliminate team burnout for good so that teams can focus more on the work they do without the stress of not knowing where or how the work is happening.

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 operations

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why it’s so important to implement and codify SOPs in your agency, especially if your team is growing
  • Identifying where your agency has room for improvement and how to start making changes
  • How to set boundaries around SOPs to get your employees to adopt the same agency operations strategies
  • Why having agency owners and leaders on board with systems adjustments matters
  • The bumps in the road agencies often face when switching up agency operations
  • How to make the changes stick beyond the 45-60 day adjustment window
  • The most broken areas of systems and processes and what you can do to improve on them
  • Everything you need to know about project management tools—which ones are right for your agency, how to get started using them, and how to vet these tools within your team
Aug 8, 2022

The talent we hire is often one of our greatest assets as agencies. Building our talent pool and promoting connectedness is integral to agency culture, and we spend a lot of time finding the perfect fit for our team.

On one hand, you want a team that can come together, easily collaborate on tasks, and understands one another closely. On the other hand, casting a wider net can find you more people who are good at helping get specific jobs done independently. How do we marry these two ideas together?

Noel Andrews of Jobrack has some answers for us. This week, we’re talking with him about what he does best—helping agencies hire remote talent who want to be part of a team and can do great work at a lower cost. It’s truly a win-win, and we can all have this. In this episode, he will teach us how to build a remote team, how to create a positive agency culture, and what to look for when hiring remote workers.

Noel Andrews bought Jobrack in 2018 after 10 years of building and leading large teams in the corporate tech world. Since then, he has helped businesses all over the world hire more than 1,000 remote team members from Eastern Europe.

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 culture

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How do you make workers physically distant from one another feel like they’re part of the team?
  • What do you need to do as an agency owner to hire remote workers successfully?
  • Why you should reconsider doing a standard interview to vet remote talent and instead assess their skills directly
  • How to take the stress out of hiring by leveraging the talent you already have in your agency
  • Changing our thoughts around remote workers as only “task-doers”
  • Why it’s essential for agency culture to make remote hires feel like they belong to the team
  • How to manage and build a remote team across multiple time zones
  • How to build agency culture and promote connectedness around remote teams
  • How to set expectations and compensate your remote teams well for their skills
Aug 1, 2022

For many of us, agency ownership means that most of our time and energy goes into our work. Even when trying to sleep, we’re replaying a frustrating conversation we had earlier that day, doomscrolling, or even dreaming about everything on our to-do lists. When we can’t turn off our minds at the end of a long day, we set ourselves up for occupational burnout.

As some of you know, I learned the hard way that staying overly connected to our work can have severe consequences. I brought Dr. Gerry Farris on the podcast today to talk about how we can take care of ourselves to feel better daily, stay mentally strong and healthy, and why taking breaks is so important. With many years as a physician and working with patients who have experienced occupational burnout, Dr. Farris is the perfect person to educate us on how to be smarter about living our overly-connected lives.

Dr. Gerry Farris has been an Emergency physician for 30 years and a Functional Medicine physician for 10 years. His current practice focuses on healthy living and age management and he is a former triathlete who competed for 31 years. His goal is to help patients and persons be healthy, mitigate disease and aging, and live well for a long time. He is a double Board Certified physician with a wealth of experience and knowledge. He is practicing the “Medicine of Tomorrow, Today!”

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to know if you’re experiencing occupational burnout or heading in that direction
  • How information overload leads to hypervigilance and why it happens
  • The effects that elevated cortisol levels have on our brains and bodies
  • How to build resilience against neuroinflammation and bodily dysregulation
  • What does burnout recovery look like?
  • Why sleep is one of the most essential things for recovery and burnout prevention
  • What 37 minutes a day can do to improve your overall health
  • How to make healthy lifestyle changes that you can stick to
Jul 25, 2022

Some of the most significant innovations have been born out of the most challenging hardships, and agency innovations are no different. For the past two years, agency owners have been through the wringer. Some of you have even wondered if it’s time to shut your doors and move on to something different. You’re all. Just. Exhausted.

I often use the analogy that your agency is a ship, and you are the captain. It’s your responsibility to make sure that the ship doesn’t sink. For the past 24 months, this meant finding shelter and waiting out the storm. But we must rethink that analogy for the new times we’re finding ourselves in. With pandemic days easing up, I’m now telling you it’s time to head back into open waters.

While things haven’t completely settled down yet, this is our time to shine. We’ve spent the past two years adapting, changing the game plan, and moving through a figurative storm of hardship. But that has primed us for greatness and equipped us to move forward into a new renaissance of ideas and agency innovation. It’s time to relinquish control, take new risks, and see that these hard times have made you and your agency stronger and ready for brand new ventures.

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 innovationn

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • I made a mistake in overemphasizing the importance of finding a safe harbor to get us through the pandemic. We need to rethink this.
  • Where your focus should be turning now to drive your agency innovations
  • Why control and leading with a type-A personality was suitable for the pandemic but might not be as supportive now
  • Why creativity and agency innovation is so important right at this moment
  • How taking risks will push your agency forward into the new era
  • What past tragedies and renaissances can teach us about where we’re heading in the future
  • That your only choice as an agency owner right now is to leave safe harbor no matter whether you’re ready to close up shop or move forward as an agency
  • The questions you should be asking yourself as an agency owner to be a renaissance leader
Jul 18, 2022

As agency owners, we’re often dedicated to the niche we’ve carved out for ourselves and can get very comfortable serving our clients within those parameters. It’s easy to become highly committed, and stubbornly so, to that one niche. When it stops working for us the way we want it to, deciding to pivot can be difficult.

Today, the CEO of PredictiveROI, Stephen Woessner, came on the podcast to share his experience with this exact situation. His agency had been working in a niche for many years as a podcast shop that helped clients produce content. After some time, it started to become clear to the team that there was a better way they could be approaching business. Thus, a new agency niche was born, which began their great pivot to becoming the authority in teaching clients how to be the authority of their industries.

Stephen shares with us what led to the decision to pivot, the decisions he and his team made during the shifting process, and how they re-established their cornerstone content to align with their new niche.

If you take nothing else away from this very transparent and open discussion today, you should at least know that you have permission to think differently about how you want to position your agency to potential clients and that it’s okay for your agency niche to not be permanent. Sometimes, to build better, you need to pivot.

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 Niche

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why choosing your agency niche doesn’t have to be a permanent decision
  • How Stephen Woessner of PredictiveROI knew it was time to pivot to a new niche
  • Why sometimes throwing out the playbook and rebuilding in a different direction is a better move for your agency, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first
  • What pushed Stephen and his team to rethink their agency niche and the value they were providing to their clients
  • How to know which types of clients you’re already serving the best (this could be your new niche)
  • What is cornerstone content, and why is it so important to establish?
  • The importance of building a community of people wanting to learn from you and others to make more effortless sales
  • You have permission to think differently about your agency and how you want to position it in your industry
Jul 11, 2022

We all know the phrase, “what we don’t know, can’t hurt us.” But, it also can’t make us any more money. That’s why this week, we’re kicking things off with another solocast episode where I’ll be discussing the two agency growth secrets that are guaranteed to put more money in your pocket and bring clients to you effortlessly.

To demonstrate this, I’m using Flying Camel as an example of how a few small tweaks can up-level you from an A– to an A-grade agency. They’ve already established themselves as an agency that has honed its expertise within a niche, they’re sought-after to speak at events all over the world, and are overall doing everything right. But, they knew they could be doing more, and they contacted me to help them figure out how to tackle it.

While we didn’t need to change much, we still gave them two areas to work on that will almost instantly make their agency even more attractive to potential clients. And on today’s episode, I’m going to break down those topics so that you can start up-leveling your agency, too.

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 agency growth secrets that can uplevel your agency, even if you’re already doing everything right
  • Two ways that you could easily improve your agency’s profitability and bottom line every year
  • The value of understanding the money metrics in your agency, even if you’re not a numbers person
  • Why carving out a niche and honing your expertise will establish you as a leader in your industry
  • The reasons you should not be dismissing your own expertise, but rather, magnifying it
  • How to be sought-after specifically for your expertise with very little change to your day-to-day operations
  • Why being a thought leader matters when running an A-tier agency
  • How to carve out time to create content that sets you apart from other agencies
Jul 4, 2022

This holiday week, the idea of freedom is at the forefront of many people’s minds. It’s a topic that touches so many facets of our lives every day. In today’s episode, I want to turn my focus to agency owners, and what freedoms we should be taking full advantage of that will ultimately benefit your agency culture.

Many of us chose to start our own agencies because it granted us privileges that being an employee did not. And while we may think we’re taking full advantage of them, the reality is that we could be offering ourselves so much more.

Today, I’ll cover seven freedoms that agency owners can (and absolutely should) be taking advantage of. From who you work with and hire, how you spend your work time, to your own role in your agency, and more. You chose to work for yourself, and now is the time to reflect on if you’re making it work for you.

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why we should take full advantage of our freedoms as agency owners
  • What specific privileges we have, and how to leverage them to work for you and your agency
  • Why agency owners shouldn’t hire employees based solely on their talent
  • Why it’s important to share your vision when choosing who you hire
  • How putting up with bad attitudes from employees limits the freedoms we have as agency owners
  • Why we should have more freedom than our employees when it comes to our schedules
  • Why your time should work for your life, and not the other way around
  • What you should be doing when it comes to leveraging your financial freedoms as an agency owner
  • The freedoms agency owners have when it comes to walking away or staying in the business
  • Why agency owners take on the risk of running a business but aren’t comfortable taking the rewards
Jun 27, 2022

We all wish we had more time in our schedules, right? We long for a day without interruptions so we can just focus and do our best work. Or, even worse, we’ve finished all of our work, and now we don’t know what to do with ourselves. These are two different problems, but, according to today’s guest, both have the same solution that starts in our agency operations.

This is where Joe Martin has a thing or two to teach us. He changed how his entire agency operates and meets its goals by switching to a 6-week cycle work schedule. This means four weeks on, two weeks off, and a lot of room for adjustment and flexibility for maximum efficiency.

Today, he teaches us how this benefits every level of agency culture, how to begin implementing it into your agency, and why it’s so effective. We’ll also learn why it might not be the best idea to bring this structure into your dating life.

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 Operations

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to maximize efficiency and productivity in your agency
  • Why it’s not about the hours we’re buying from employees, but rather their skills and ability to accomplish tasks
  • How to break the 40-hour work week mindset and have more productive employees
  • Why it’s important to learn what value you are offering to clients before implementing a strategy
  • What is a 6-week cycle, and why does it work so well for agency operations?
  • How to begin implementing this structure into agency culture
  • Why this structure is even better than the popular 4-day work week model
Jun 20, 2022

This week on Building a Better Agency, we’re jumping right back into our breakdown of 2022 Marketing Trends. Last time, we talked about noticeable trends in agency spending, shifting client expectations, and not missing out on opportunities for business development. This time, we’re taking things a bit closer to home by talking about trends we’re seeing in our own marketing tactics, in our employees, and in ourselves as agency owners.

If you didn’t catch Part 1 of this conversation during our last solocast episode (#345) — no worries! There’s still plenty of time to go back and catch up. Then join us here for Part 2 of our discussion on the industry trends, insights, and predictions that agency owners should know about before entering the second half of the year.

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The marketing trends we’re seeing with agency owners, employees, and tactics
  • Why agency owners across the board are so dang exhausted (nope, it’s not just you!)
  • Why Drew believes that agency owners aren’t just tired, but tired of being afraid
  • Where are agencies at with the whole “work from home” situation? What’s working and what isn’t?
  • Why employees have never been more expensive than they are right now — and when that pendulum will swing back.
  • Which marketing and sales tactics are working best for agencies right now
Jun 13, 2022

The market right now for attracting and retaining the best employees is insane. It feels like only three people on the planet are looking for work, and they all want $3 million, plus a signing bonus. Owners are in panic mode when they think about attracting and retaining the best employees. They’re struggling to find good candidates. Or, by the time they get a candidate through their 12-step process, they miss out because they accepted a different position.

So how in this environment should we be hiring? What should the process look like?

I invited Heenle Turner to join me for this episode of Build a Better Agency because she holds the golden ticket to your agency having a great rest of 2022.

She believes that not only should we all have a 5-star employee, but that we should have ALL 4- and 5-star employees in our agencies. She believes that this is absolutely possible and critical to our 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.
Attracting and retaining the best employees

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What does a 5-star employee look like, and why Heenle believes you can have an agency full of them
  • How you can level up your employees, especially in this market when it’s hard to find anyone to take a job
  • How you can find, hire, and keep 5-star employees
  • What are the five distinct qualities of a 5-star employee
  • What are the 11 universal qualities 5-star employees share
  • What questions should you ask during an interview to ferret out if someone is a 5-star candidate before you hire them
Jun 6, 2022

As agencies, we tend to overlook certain platforms and channels when it comes to their perceived relevance to our audiences or bottom-line ad potential. That bias is one that Lindsay Shearer overcame to help her clients win new business and earn 2-3 times their initial ad spend on what most of us would consider an unlikely platform — Pinterest.

During our conversation on this week’s episode of Build a Better Agency, Lindsay talks about what led her to experiment with Pinterest in the first place and why she quickly adopted the platform into her agency’s diversified ad strategies. If you’re wondering what advertising on Pinterest looks like, how it works, and why you might want to consider incorporating it into your ad strategies, then you’re in the right place. Join Lindsay and I as we talk about using Pinterest — part social channel and part interest-based search engine — to win high-quality, top-of-funnel business for ourselves and our clients.

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

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What led Lindsay to experiment with Pinterest in the first place
  • Why an entire department of Lindsay’s agency is now devoted to Pinterest ad strategies specifically
  • How Pinterest functions as both a search engine and a social media site — and why that’s a game-changer
  • The major role Pinterest plays in consumer behavior and the intentional purchasing decisions of its users
  • What types of brands play well in the Pinterest space — and why
  • How to set expectations for yourself, and your clients, about this channel that plays a bit differently than most
  • Where Pinterest could fit into your current cross-channel ad strategies and how to get started
May 30, 2022

What happens to our agencies when something happens to us? No one likes to think about the day that they’re no longer around, and it’s no secret as to why. The conversation can feel more than a little uncomfortable. But as agency owners, it’s one that’s far too important for us to avoid or ignore. If we want to ensure that our businesses —and more importantly —our people will be taken care of should the unexpected happen, then we need to make sure that we have a plan in place that allows our agencies to keep living on even after we’re gone.

On this episode of Build a Better Agency, I sit down with attorney Andrea Shoup to start the conversation and hopefully, to help you all do the same. Andrea holds a depth of expertise in both estate planning and business law — making her the perfect person to help us wrap our heads around this tricky but critical subject.

During our conversation, Andrea offers up her invaluable insights into navigating different succession plan options, learning how, when, and with whom those plans need to be created and communicated, and what happens when we don’t have a contingency plan in place.

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.
legacy planning

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How legacy planning can protect your business —and your people— should something happen to you
  • The key differences between a will and an estate plan
  • Everything that goes into a contingency plan — and how to get yours started
  • Who needs to be involved in your contingency planning, and how those plans should be communicated
  • How long it will take you to gather the information you’ll need for your plans
  • What happens when we DON’T have a contingency plan in place
  • When is the “right time” to start planning your agency’s succession?
May 23, 2022

Women own less than 1% of the ad agencies in North America. This gender gap is disappointing and staggering, but in this episode of Build a Better Agency, our guest expert Christy Hiler reminds us that bridging that gap is far from impossible.

During our conversation, Christy helps us unravel this alarming statistic by exploring the barriers that may be keeping the women we lead and work with from pursuing ownership roles or viewing ownership, not just leadership, as an end goal in the first place. In addition to discussing the things that may be holding women back, Christy and I also discuss the progress from encouraging, elevating, and celebrating women-owned agencies, and what we can do as agency owners to help empower more women within our networks to pursue ownership roles.

This topic is near and dear to me as both an agency owner and someone who has the privilege of working alongside the women-led agencies represented in AMI. My hope is that you will not only enjoy this conversation with Christy, but that you will link arms with her and leaders like her so that we can all work together to tackle problems like this in our industry.

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

Agency Owners

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What the “Own It” initiative is, and what inspired Christy to launch it
  • Why women own less than 1% of all ad agencies in North America
  • The barriers that may be preventing women in the industry from becoming agency owners
  • Why inviting and empowering women in these spaces is a benefit for everyone
  • How women-led agencies are doing things differently — and why that’s so great
  • What current agency owners can do to mentor, encourage, and empower the women they work with to seek ownership opportunities
  • How you can help Christy identify, support, and celebrate women-led agencies in the industry
May 16, 2022

Summertime is just around the corner, which means now is the perfect time of year for agency owners like us to take stock of where we’re at now and where we want to be sitting by the end of the year. How can we get a clear picture of how 2022 is stacking up against 2021? By taking a close look at the trends that have, and will continue, to affect our industry as a whole.

 

On this week’s solocast episode of Build a Better Agency, we’re taking a look at the marketing trends that have shaped the first part of the year so we can mitigate the bad, take advantage of the good, and come into the second half of 2022 stronger than ever. As the title suggests, this discussion is being split into two parts — so be sure to keep an eye out for Part 2 during our next solocast!

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

marketing trends

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Which marketing trends are in Drew’s crosshairs — and why
  • How 2022 stacks up against 2021 so far
  • Why so many agencies are feeling the pinch more this year than last
  • The metrics agency owners aren’t paying enough attention to
  • How those metrics can help you add 5% profit to your bottom line this year
  • Business development opportunities that you don’t want to miss out on — and how to make sure you don’t
  • How client expectations have changed in the past few years
May 9, 2022

As agency owners, the work environments we create are a direct reflection of our leadership styles. In a trust-led environment, our people should feel safe to speak up, take risks, and take ownership of the work they produce. Trust is the cornerstone for strong communication, creativity, and the innovation that fuels our business. So, what happens when trust isn’t part of the equation?

Our guest for this episode of Build a Better Agency, Sue Dyer, is an expert on all things leadership. She wrote the book on trusted leadership (literally) and has seen firsthand how teams and even entire agencies tend to fall apart when the people at the helm aren’t leading with trust.

During our conversation, Sue and I unpack what it means to be a trusted leader, how agency owners can determine their leadership style, and what it takes to build successful organizations based on trust.

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

Agency Leaders

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What it means to be a trusted agency leader
  • Why trust is the cornerstone of success for any business
  • How to create a high-trust environment at your agency
  • Ways to help new team members adapt to a trusted environment
  • Why “fear-led” environments have wiped out so many businesses
  • How to determine whether or not you are a trusted leader
  • What to do in order to start becoming a trusted leader
May 2, 2022

Whether we realize it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) has already impacted countless aspects of our everyday lives. And as the technology we rely on continues to adapt and change, those changes will inevitably shape the future of our businesses, our industry, and our society. As agency owners, it’s our job to stay ahead of those changes — even if the thought of an AI-driven agency is, understandably, a little intimidating.

Our guest on this episode of Build a Better Agency, Paul Roetzer, is not only an expert on all things AI, but he’s also someone who is dedicated to helping agency owners and other industry professionals. Paul teaches those agency owners and industry professionals how to pilot and scale AI technology so they can use it to drive efficiency, growth, and creativity for their business.

During our enlightening conversation, Paul demystifies the fascinating realities of artificial intelligence by walking us through what it really is, how AI agency tools can help make us better at our jobs, and why shaping the future of marketing starts with understanding how to use AI platforms, programs, and services responsibly.

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.

leveraging artificial intelligence

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How artificial intelligence will — and already is — shaping the future of agency tools
  • Why AI is NOT here to take your job
  • Where you’re already seeing AI in your everyday life, and where you WILL see it in marketing in the marketing world
  • What AI technology can do to help you make your agency smarter right now
  • Why Paul says that you don’t need to go shopping for AI tools — and what to do instead
  • How AI agency tools can be used to drive efficiency and growth for your business
  • What Paul believes a “Next Gen” agency looks like — and how to become one
Apr 25, 2022

As agency partners, we have access to an insane amount of backend data and insights into our clients’ business. Now what? How can we use all of that data to build momentum in our clients’ revenue pipelines and translate those insights for them so that they can make the case when they’re at the table with the decision-makers on their team?

On this episode of Build a Better Agency, we’re joined by CRM and sales expert Eric Stockton, VP of Demand Generation at SharpSpring. Eric gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the industry-wide shift in focus from outbound marketing to inbound lead generation. We talk about what this means for agencies and how we can help our clients adjust to a “quality over quantity” mindset — without freaking them out.

Eric is a past keynote speaker at a series of marketing-related trade shows, including MarketingSherpa events, eCommerce Retail Executive Summit, Email Summit, B2B Demand Generation Summit, ContentBiz, MarketingExperiements virtual events, and Affiliate Summit.

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.

Inbound Leads

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why the industry is shifting its focus from outbound to inbound leads — and what that means for agencies
  • How to help our clients make that shift without freaking out
  • Why focusing on quality over quantity does NOT mean you’ll be getting fewer leads
  • What Eric means when he tells his clients to focus on their “North Star” metrics
  • Whether or not the “quality game” is truly sustainable
  • Ways we as agency partners can help clients divorce themselves from metrics they don’t — or shouldn’t — care about
Apr 18, 2022

How does your agency show up in the world? As agency owners, we have a responsibility to know what’s going on — with our business, our employees, and our clients. There’s a lot going on in the world, and understanding how these things affect the worldviews of others in our space is the first step in deepening our agency relationships, elevating our business, and making sure we go beyond the “one-word” values our industry seems to be riddled with.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Karley Cunningham of Big Bold Brand joins me to talk about ways agencies can actually implement their mission, vision, and values into their processes in order to leverage them as strategic branding tools. She also offers expert insights into identifying the worldviews of the audiences who matter most to you, knowing when to take a stance on the important issues, and what to do when your worldviews no longer align with those of your clients.

Brand Strategist and Business Growth Accelerator Karley Cunningham takes businesses from overcrowded, competitive spaces out into blue ocean territory where they can confidently stand out and thrive as brand leaders in their sector.

Having built three successful businesses, Karley knows what it takes to start, develop and lead a company that delivers results. Her entrepreneurial success story is featured in the awarded book: The Widest Net by Pamela Slim. In addition, she’s a sought-after mentor and speaker for national and international business organizations and the host of The Made Possible Podcast.

Believing deeply in the practice of givers gain, she is well-known and networked and rarely goes a day without making a referral or connection. As a former pro athlete, Karley is performance-driven. An avid mountain athlete, she is a two-time finisher of the BC Bike Race, a seven-day, 325 km mountain bike stage race, and is always looking out for her next trail running adventure. When not focusing on the business or expanding her network, she can be found somewhere in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest with her wife and dog in their 4×4.

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 Relationships

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to proactively influence the way your agency shows up in the world
  • Why it’s important to understand our client’s worldviews, how they align with our own, and what that means for our business
  • Ways to implement your mission, vision, and values as strategic branding tools
  • How to accelerate your business, improve employee retention, and deepen client relationships by taking your mission, vision, and values “off of the page”
  • When it’s important to take a stance on important issues, and how to start those conversions with clients
  • What your consumers want to know about where you stand
  • How to identify and align the worldviews of the audiences who matter most to you
Apr 11, 2022

One of the unfortunate truths of our business is that as agency owners, we are almost never in the driver’s seat when it comes to sales engagements. At the end of the day, we have no way to inspire, incent, cajole, bribe, or trick someone into buying agency services until they have a genuine need for them. But, with so much of our focus centered around not making an ask at the wrong time, it’s no surprise that so many of us are left with the same question — when CAN we sell?

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, we’re going to answer that question in a few different ways. First, we’re going to talk about what the “right time” to sell looks like not only for our prospects but also for existing clients and former clients. We’re also going to explore ways we as agency owners can accelerate the sales process (because yes, that’s a thing we can do), provide value to our prospects long before we’re in their consideration set, and use our positions of authority to grow our reputation and crush our business development goals — all without selling.

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.

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

Agency Owners

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How agency owners can know whether or not it’s the right time to sell
  • What the right time to sell looks like for your prospects, existing clients, and even for clients who’ve parted ways with your agency
  • Why agency owners are not always in the driver’s seat when it comes to engaging business development opportunities — and why that’s ok
  • How to ensure that you’re providing value to your prospects long before they’re on your radar
  • What agency owners can do to accelerate the sales process
  • The reason Drew says you shouldn’t try to sell until after you’ve been helpful
  • How agencies are crushing their business development goals — without selling
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