Build a Better Agency Podcast presented by HubSpot

My podcast, Build A Better Agency, is completely focused on helping you do just that.  No matter how strong, big or well-known your agency is today — I believe it can get even better.  My guests are all agency-centric or have an expertise in an area that I believe agency owners need to know more about.

Each podcast is 30-45 minutes long and always ends with some next steps that you can take immediately to implement something you’ve heard.

While my intention is that these podcasts are designed specifically for agency owners, I do believe that any agency leader will gain new ideas, fresh perspective and maybe a kick in the pants or two from listening.

We’ll release a new episode every Wednesday and here are the links that I believe will be pertinent to you.

GuestIf you have been asked to be a guest – all you need to know is right here (and will be emailed to you)
If you think you’d be a good guest – shoot me an email.

Episode 162: The Ins and Outs of Geofencing with Justin Croxton

Often on this podcast, I share a wide-ranging conversation with my guest and we bounce around a little bit, even though we are focused on an overall theme. This episode is a little bit different. We going to deep-dive into just one subject: geofencing. For some in our business who aren’t digital natives, reaching an audience through new technologies like geofencing may seem complicated. When I started the business while still in college, it was all about print, radio, and TV. Now, I turn around without bumping into a new delivery channel or technology, like geofencing. On episode #162 of the Build a Better Agency podcast, my guest is Justin Croxton. He is the director of sales at Propellant Media, where they serve clients with location-specific methods like geofencing. Their clients are mostly SMBs in both B2B and B2C categories. IN our conversation, Justin compares getting fluent with geofencing as similar to becoming proficient in AdWords. Justin didn’t start his career in the agency business, but about three or four years ago, partnered with some colleagues to form Propellant, where the main product is inbound and technology-driven solutions for clients.     What You Will Learn About in This Episode: The difference between beacon notification and geofencing notifications How to build conversion zones using geofencing Getting over the “minimum spend” hurdle in geofence ad buying Why you should consider coupling geofencing with search retargeting How to create the right digital marketing mix with geofencing as a key ingredient How to target the right people within a geofence with your marketing message Ways you can keep up the messaging (or not) once someone leaves a geofenced zone The digital mechanics of how geofencing interacts with apps […]

Episode 161: Solving a Market Problem and Serving a Larger Purpose with Jonathan Grzybowski

For entrepreneurs, business decisions always are a blend of the head and heart. You need data and research in hand to make smart, informed decisions. But it also needs to feel right. Episode #161 is about those head-and-heart decisions. It’s about making mistakes and starting over. It’s about not settling for only one side of the equation. Some learn these lessons sooner than others. We all know college kids who started their own thing and made it work brilliantly. Back when I was in college, that didn’t even cross my mind. But today, it’s becoming more of the norm. Today’s young adults have a different script and a different sense of what’s possible. And they are far from crazy. Exciting things are happening, big problems are getting solved, and a larger purpose is being fulfilled. And people like Jonathan Grzybowski are just jumping in and doing it. For 29-year-old Jonathan, part of the problem was his own dissatisfaction. Running a full-service agency was not fulfilling. Money as the sole motivator was not working for him. That led him to set out to solve a business problem along with his own dissatisfaction. His agency excelled at design. Why not take that design excellence and use the platform they were developing to manage their internal projects to provide design as a on demand service? Jonathan Grzybowski is now co-founder of Penji, a subscription-based design service for agencies and other businesses. Beyond the business problem, Grzybowski also wanted a business that made a difference in the community where he lived and worked – Camden, New Jersey. One of the things I love most about the agency owners I work with is their generosity. They have a pay it […]

Episode 160: A skill all agency owners need to own and hone – the difficult conversation with Drew McLellan

One of the challenges for all of us as agency owners and leaders is finding the balance of creating a relationship with our employees, but also being the leader and helping them recognize their blind spots, areas of growth and when they’ve messed up. This requires the courage to have candid conversations with your team members. It’s never easy or all together comfortable, but to truly be a leader in our agency – this is not an optional skill. I see the avoidance of these conversations when I’m on site with an agency, when I’m on a coaching or and when I’m with a group of owners, talking about their employees. We don’t address behaviors that we know are unacceptable or not up to par. We may joke about it, or hint at it, or even deal with it passive aggressively – but we don’t tackle it head on. We hide behind silence, email exchanges, and even through text messages – all to avoid that face-to-face conversation. I get it — you’re afraid of what your employees’ reaction will be, or what it would do to the agency if they quit. You feel as if you’re between a rock and a hard place. So you tolerate the behavior. You make your staff and clients suffer from the behavior. You risk losing employees and clients rather than addressing it. And worst of all — you greatly diminishing your reputation as a leader because everyone around you is wondering why you’re letting it continue. And quite honestly — they’re wondering why they should follow the rules if others don’t. The skill of having difficult conversations and course correcting your team is vital. And we as agency owners […]

Episode 159: 6 Keys to a Great Client/Agency Relationship with Dr. Mario Vafeas

Client relationships is a frequent topic on this podcast. In this episode, we focus on what it takes to cultivate strong and mutually beneficial relationships with clients. Dr. Mario Vafeas is on the faculty at The University of the West of England in Bristol. His work in agency-client relationships is the result of research, study and real-world experience. He brings a pragmatic approach, backed by the data, into the conversation. Buckle up because it’s a deep conversation, packed with takeaways to use in your own agency. Through deepening your relationship with clients, and providing the right kinds of ideas, training and other added value, you can really set agency apart, increasing your client and employee retention. You will truly be a trusted ally and co-creator with your clients and prospects. Prior to joining the faculty at UWE, Mario spent 20 years in branding and design consultancy and several years in brand management at HJ Heinz and Harveys of Bristol. As well as undergraduate and masters teaching, Mario is involved in knowledge exchange projects with SMEs, and research in the field of buyer-seller relationships and value co-creation. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and a Fellow of the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing. He is also a DMA (West) Regional Council Member, and a Certified Digital Marketing Professional (Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute).     What You Will Learn About in This Episode: How to both share ideas with and learn from the client Drawing from other industries to bring depth to your work in the clients’ industry Why external agencies need to focus less on producing “stuff” and more on producing insights and big ideas […]

Episode 158: The Location Agnostic Agency with Brendon Craigie

Remember when it sounded crazy to remote employees scattered all over the country?  Or even crazier, in multiple countries? The truth is today, it’s becoming the norm rather than the exception. Many agencies are choosing a hybrid approach, with a central office and staff in a brick and mortar location, but also with remote full-time and part-time workers. Some agencies are going all-in on remote work, ditching the central office and becoming, in the words of my podcast guest for this episode, “location-agnostic.” I am intrigued by this, to say the least. I worked for and built businesses in an era when you went where the work was, whether you loved that particular center of commerce or not. But our business is changing, and the agency owners I work with are shifting into this new normal as well. I had some big questions about becoming totally location-agnostic. How do you develop a strong culture when you all work in different places? How do the clients feel about it? How do you do the collaborative work that agencies are known for when you are scattered all over? My guest on this episode is Brendon Craigie, co-founder and managing partner at Tyto PR. Tyto is a pan-European company with a fully location-agnostic staff. Is building a healthy and happy work culture possible with an all-remote team? Brendon is finding the answer to that is a resounding “yes!” But there is more to his company than a remote workforce. They are intentionally flat, hiring well-seasoned creative “black belts” rather than having junior-level staff as worker bees. They are finding this to be a business model that’s rewarding to clients as well as the firm itself. In his role, […]

Episode 157: A Tax Coach’s Guide to the New Tax Law with Craig Cody

We are hip-deep into 2018, and the new tax law is fully in effect. It’s past time to get a handle on the implications of the new law for your business because we only have a few months left to do any sort of planning before year end. Many agency owners are not exactly “numbers” people. The default, too often, is to let other people handle the money, then go off and focus on the creative or strategic side where we can play to our strengths. On episode #157 of Build a Better Agency, I talk with CPA and tax advisor, Craig Cody. Cody definitely wants you to partner up with a professional when it comes to number-crunching. But in our conversation, he makes no bones about it: you’ve got roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. You can’t check out of your business’ finances, no matter how much you trust your internal or external advisors. So, this is a great and very timely conversation. Did you know you can hire your kids and enjoy some significant tax advantages? Craig serves up a ton of tax tips, deduction hacks and best practices on everything from dispelling the myths about deducting a home office to paying for medical expenses, along with the basics of keeping up with the books. A tax advisor – not just a tax preparer – can be a huge benefit for your bottom line. I had a great time talking with Craig. I learned a lot, and I know you will too. Craig Cody is a Certified Tax Coach. His practice is rooted in tax planning. His philosophy is to find ways to legally reduce tax liabilities and keep more […]

Episode 156: Add Value First – Building Relationships Also Builds Your Agency with James Carbary

Building genuine relationships in our industry is one of the best parts of being in the business. The point is not to build transactional relationships that will end in a big “payoff” for you. When you focus on real relationships, you wind up bringing people into your life who you actually want to work with, and when you’re really fortunate, end up being good friends. I firmly believe in this philosophy and the value of those relationships, both professionally and personally. These days, relationship-building often starts online. James Carbary has raised LinkedIn updates and interactions to an art form. I wanted to explore his strategy and the benefits he’d seen in this episode. James generously shared some great tips on how to create good content that gets noticed and builds both engagement and relationships online. His LinkedIn prowess grows out of his larger interest in fostering genuine relationships. One of the more fascinating projects James has going on are the B2B Growth Dinners he has launched.  It may be coming to a city near you and if so – be sure to participate. James’ idea was to create an opportunity for six strangers who all worked in tangential fields to have dinner and get to know one another. No agenda, no 30-second elevator pitch. He owns/runs an agency, but James’ passion and gift is as a relationship builder. So, we had a lot to talk about! James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. He’s a contributor to the Huffington Post and Business Insider, and he also co-hosts the B2B Growth Show, a daily podcast dedicated to helping B2B marketers achieve explosive growth.     What You Will […]

Episode 155: Why Finding Your Niches is No Longer Optional with Drew McLellan

It’s a bit of a milestone episode here, episode 155. It seems like an odd number to celebrate, but it means this podcast has been going strong for three years now! (52 weeks = 156 episodes) So thanks for listening, whether you’ve been around since the beginning, or this is your first time here! As I speak with agency owners and decision-makers every day about their agencies and their business development efforts (or lack thereof!), we talk about the value of niching their agency. It’s the old brain surgeon versus general practitioner and the relative value proposition of each. Your niches (note the plural) can be industry-specific, a certain methodology or in some limited cases – a specialty (PPC, etc.). But what do you do when you’ve narrowed down the niches you want to serve? That’s what this solocast is all about. How do you actually walk out your talk and live/sell and profit from your niches?   What you’ll learn about in this episode: Why establishing niches for your agency is so important How many niches should an agency have and why? How do you promote your agency’s special sauce/niches and expertise How sweet spot clients intersect with your niches The business development process to sell to your niches Why helping your clients be better at their job is the heart of your biz dev plan What to do with those clients outside your niches that you don’t want to fire Drew McLellan is the CEO at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency since 1995 and is still actively running the agency today. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an agency owner and working with 250+ small- […]

Episode 154: Talk Triggers and Chatter Matters: Word-of-Mouth Marketing with Daniel Lemin

Word of mouth is nothing new. For generations, it’s been talking with your neighbor over the fence, at the local watering hole, or telling your co-worker about the latest movie in the breakroom. As a business, word of mouth is sparked by those things that you do that separate you from the pack. These talk triggers are so memorable and unique that your customers can’t help but talk about them. My guest Daniel Lemin gives plenty of examples that show us that talk triggers are rarely very expensive, and they tend to be operational differentiators rather than gimmicks or flash in the pan activities. Think Doubletree’s complimentary cookie when you check in or the Cheesecake Factory’s epic novel of a menu. Daniel has co-written a book with Jay Baer about this powerful marketing technique appropriately called Talk Triggers. In this episode, Daniel and I chat about what he and Jay learned in their research and the insights they gleaned for all marketers. These B2B and B2C brands (large and small) are following a specific pattern as they create and execute their talk triggers and Daniel will walk us through that as well. We look at this topic from many angles – from how agencies can leverage this phenomenon and, of course, how we can put it into practice for our clients. Daniel Lemin is a startup co-founder, trusted advisor and bestselling author on reputation management, digital marketing, and social media customer service. As an early member of Google’s global communications team, Daniel led the launch of products in North America, EMEA, and Asia Pacific, and edited the Google Zeitgeist weekly research report featured in over 40 markets worldwide. His new book with co-author Jay Baer, […]

Episode 153: Company Culture – Living What You Say You Do with Gina Trimarco

As agencies struggle to attract and retain top talent, it’s natural that we’re having a lot of conversation about culture. We’re in a creative industry, and I find that most owners are pretty self-aware. We want to love the business we’ve built, and we want to do right by our employees. Everyone wants their agency to have a culture that employees value and enjoy, but some owners don’t really know how to be intentional about it. Gina Trimarco is the chief results officer and founder of a company called Pivot 10 Results. In this episode, I wanted to get her take on some of the challenges owners are facing in the current business climate – mainly getting and retaining the right employees. Work culture is a big part of that equation. We get into a lively discussion about core values and how they can either sit unremembered in an employee handbook or be pivotal in shaping culture. What does it take to keep core values front-of-mind for both owners and employees? How does that help attract and retain the best people? These are questions I am asked every day, so I was glad for Gina’s perspective on all this. I think you will be too.     What you’ll learn about in this episode: How to define a healthy work culture Creative ways to thank employees for a job well done Putting your best foot forward when an applicant is interviewing you as a potential workplace Empathy-based training and emotional intelligence to create a positive work environment The critical role of stated, repeated, and lived-out core values in establishing a healthy work culture Using your story to sell services, and attract and retain great people […]