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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: Page 1
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
Apr 4, 2022

Running an agency in a post-COVID world means growing more and more comfortable operating in a virtual environment. This collective shift in our industry has been happening for a while, but after navigating a global pandemic, agency owners have had to pivot more rapidly than in the past. As a result, agency owners are left wondering how they can genuinely connect with their prospects and invest in those relationships when the human aspect of interaction has shifted to a digital one.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, I talk with encore guest, Tom Martin. Tom is the Founder and CEO of Converse Digital, and he knows a thing or two about the collective shift into the digital world – a shift that isn’t going to reverse anytime soon. Tom and I discuss how sales strategies, pitches, and the dynamics of client interactions have been influenced by this digital shift.

You’ll probably be just as relieved as I was to hear Tom share why that shift, while uncomfortable for many of us, is actually a GOOD thing for agencies. We also delve into the importance of strategically creating your prospect lists and how you and your pitch teams can use social media, the internet, and other digital environments our clients rely on to your agency’s advantage. Tom gives expert advice on successfully attracting, building, and effectively selling agency relationships in a virtual world.

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:

  • What sales, prospecting, and effective agency relationships look like in a post-COVID world
  • How Tom went from being “unemployable” to owning his own agency
  • Why Tom emphasizes the importance of strategically attracting your prospects
  • What it means for your pitch teams to “do their homework” — and why it’s usually the key to winning a sale
  • How sales strategies and client relationships have adapted to an increasingly digital environment
  • Why Tom believes that your prospects list is ultimately worthless if it’s impersonal
  • How investing the time in getting to know your prospects will place you leaps and bounds over your competitors
  • What it means to be a “conversation catalyst,” and how you and your pitch teams can use what Tom calls “social reconnaissance” to offer more value to your prospects
  • Why the industry-wide shift to virtual sales and virtual relationships is actually a GOOD thing for agencies
Mar 28, 2022

Time sheets. Taxes. Annual reviews. There are some things we don’t love as agency owners and leaders. Cybersecurity and compliance are absolutely on that list. But much like taxes, it’s a necessary evil today. The risks are too great, and the reality is – our clients are going to demand it. We’re far better off to get out ahead of it before we’re asked.

Even my guest, Nathan Maxwell, refers to cybersecurity and compliance as “necessary evils.” But, as the CEO of CCITeam, Nathan also knows better than anyone that in a world filled with data breaches, security risks, and unpredictable online attacks, avoidance simply isn’t an option.
Nathan isn’t one to sugarcoat the daunting realities of implementing solid defenses, navigating cyber insurance options, or tending to the growing list of compliance concerns we’re all getting from our clients. But during our conversation, he reminds us that those processes, while painstaking at times, are never insurmountable. In fact, when we take the time to do these things the right way, our efforts won’t just make our companies safer — they’ll make them better.

Founded in 1995, CCITeam (formerly Communication Concepts, Inc.) is a full-service cyber security, compliance, and IT firm, headquartered in the US heartland. President and CEO, Nathan Maxwell saw an important unmet need for a quality IT and cyber security provider that treated their clients more like family, rather than just a ‘number’. With over twenty years of experience in enterprise-level corporations, Nathan founded CCITeam with four core principles; care, ownership, sharing knowledge, and loyalty. Each of these principles is what makes CCI one of the most trusted managed IT and security providers in the region.

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:

  • What effective cybersecurity looks like for agency operations — and why you should care
  • The risks every business should be aware of (yes, small agencies too)
  • How cybersecurity and compliance are the same, and also very different
  • Why your policies need to match your practices and how to make sure they do
  • How your employees can either strengthen your cyber defense…or be its greatest weakness
  • What to do to protect your business from big risks — including the ones lurking in your inbox
  • When to start shopping for cyber insurance and how to know how much you need
  • The ROI for agencies who “do all of this right”
Mar 21, 2022

As agency owners, we tend to view sales as a necessary evil. Even when we love what we do, believe in how we do it, and have proof that we do it well, having to put on our “sales hats” can still feel, well, gross. But…maybe we’re going about getting those sales in the wrong way.

Nobody likes sales…except for David Priemer. David loves sales. In fact, he loves sales so much that he opted to leave his non-sales background to deconstruct the traditional sales approach and develop his own methodology based on consumer science, research, and psychology.

David has built a wildly successful career around his methodology: Cerebral Selling. And lucky for us, he uses it to help other business owners revamp and rethink their sales process to make it more efficient, effective, and most importantly, more human. I’m so excited to share our conversation with you so that you can start loving sales too — even if you hate selling.

As the Founder and Chief Sales Scientist of Cerebral Selling, David’s unique science and empathy-based approaches to driving revenue and talent growth have been published in the Harvard Business Review as well as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc. magazines. Often referred to as the “Sales Professor,” David is also the author of the Bestselling book, Sell The Way You Buy, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University and the London Business School.

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 to sell your business even if you absolutely hate sales
  • What it means to “sell the way you buy”
  • The biggest mistakes agency owners make when trying to sell their business
  • How giving people the opportunity to say “no” can win you more “yesses”
  • Why your CTAs might be scaring your customers away — and how to fix them
  • The one thing that customers buy 100% of the time (yes, 100%)
  • Why your sales pitches should be focused on problems, not solutions
  • How taking the pressure to sell off of yourself will take the pressure off of your customers too — and why that’s a good thing for both of you
Mar 14, 2022

Like so many other business environments, our industry is one that is undeniably extroverted on the surface. Agency work is collaborative, relational, creative, and dynamic — all attributes that seem to be catered almost exclusively to extroverted individuals. So where does that leave our introverted counterparts?

Monica Parkin, my guest for this episode, is not only an award-winning public speaker, an acclaimed author, and an engaging business leader; she’s also a total introvert (a title she wears with pride). Like so many, she used to think that gaining momentum in this industry as an introvert was an uphill battle — that is until she decided to flip those false assumptions right on their head. And now, she’s here to help us do the same.

Monica knows firsthand that introverts offer a host of hidden talents and superpowers that are invaluable for all agency teams, talents that are often overlooked or overpowered by the “louder” voices in the room. During our awesome conversation, she reveals what those superpowers are, how introverted individuals can harness their unique skills to find success without pretending to be someone they aren’t, and how agency leaders can create environments that allow the introverted voices within their own teams to rise above all the noise and truly shine.

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:

  • Why introverts are natural relationship-building masters
  • How career paths look different for introverts and extroverts, but lead to the same level of success
  • Tips, tricks, and tactics for introverts looking to magnify their ideas, form meaningful business relationships, and make their voices heard
  • Why marketing “like an extrovert” simply doesn’t work for introverts — and why that’s ok
  • How agency leaders can create environments that empower introverted talent to thrive
  • Why introverts and extroverts are both invaluable agency resources
  • How to create magic by mixing introverted and extroverted talent into your agency teams
Mar 7, 2022

Today, we’re delving into a topic that’s been on my mind, and on the minds of agency owners in general, for quite some time: employees.

No matter where you are or how big your agency is, staffing is a challenge for everyone right now. Every time the subject comes up during my conversations with agency owners, there are two frustrations in particular that bubble to the surface time and time again:

  1. It is hard to find and attract qualified agency talent
  2. It is hard to retain the qualified and talented people who already work for us

To tackle those frustrations, let’s explore several things agencies can do right now to counter the rival opportunities your current team members are being poached and approached with on any given day (and yes, it is happening.) We’re also going to get to the heart of what it takes for agencies to create an environment that is attractive to new employees, and a culture that makes your current team want to stick around — and not just for a year or so.

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 Employees

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How agencies can attract new, qualified talent
  • What it takes to keep your agency employees around for more than a year or two
  • What agency employees are looking for in a great employer, and how to be one
  • How to create an agency environment that is attractive to both new and current employees
  • How to utilize other tools for retention instead of relying solely on wage increases
  • Why you should be sharing your agency’s vision with your employees as often as possible
  • The massive value career paths offer agency employees — and owners too
  • The importance of cultivating your culture not for, but with your employees
Feb 28, 2022

The last few years have thrown a lot at us — both professionally and personally. While we’ve done our best to navigate all of that unpredictability, many have struggled to not only react to these changes but adapt. As agencies continue to reframe and take stock of where we’re at in this “new normal,” I can’t think of a better time to dive into some impressive research just released in RSW/US’s 2022 New Year Outlook report.

RSW/US talked to marketers, CMOs, business owners, agencies, and the people who are seeking out their services to get a diverse and balanced read on how these groups see the world right now — and what they anticipate for what lies ahead. In this episode of Build a Better Agency our guest, Lee McKnight, shares some of the most surprising and invaluable insights uncovered during those conversations. Then together, we break them down into key takeaways and actionable next steps that agencies can take to adapt and thrive in this climate of constant change.

Lee is no stranger to the podcast, nor is he a stranger to building and maintaining solid agency relationships — even in times like these, when the landscapes of client communication, lead generation, and sales elevation seem to be shifting indefinitely.


As Vice President of Sales at RSW/US, Lee drives sales efforts to bring ad agencies and marketing services firms on board with RSW, creates content around successful new business tactics, and takes part in RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements.

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:

  • Key takeaways from the RSW/US 2022 New Year Outlook survey, and what they mean for agencies
  • Surprising insights from marketers on spending, specialization, and shifting sales landscapes
  • Why so many marketers are pulling back on their non-marketing activities — and what that means for agencies
  • What agencies can do to elevate their sales process when face-to-face networking isn’t on the table
  • The not-so-hidden benefits of being a specialization agency
  • How agency relationships work differently in the virtual space — and how to adapt
  • Why it is crucial for agencies to alternate their content and sales platforms
  • How to build strong client relationships long before the initial pitch
Feb 21, 2022

For an industry that is heavily dependent on effective sales practices, many agency owners are intimidated by the “s” word. It conjures horrible imagery of vacuum salesmen trying to trick people into making purchases they don’t actually want or need. Hiring sales teams might seem like the right step but the results are often disappointing and it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why. This can turn one of the most important aspects of building a successful agency into the most strenuous aspect.

Kevin Snow is dedicated to helping businesses and business owners think through their approach to selling, while also helping them get more comfortable with the process. He believes strongly that shifting from a sales pitch to a simple conversation is key to making the outcome more pleasant and effective on both sides of the table.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Kevin and I demystify what it means to have a successful sales model. We look at ways to approach sales comfortably, regardless of your personality type. We unravel what it means to have sales automation that doesn’t feel phony or contrived, and we ultimately hope to help business owners reimagine this “necessary evil” as an enjoyable conversation with an outcome.

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.

Sales Strategy

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The best small business sales model
  • Sale tactics for introverts
  • Making the most of sales automation
  • The important shift in how to approach sales
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