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.
(for the vast majority of you)
(for most Android users)
Back in my early days of agency life, there was a production or traffic manager in every agency. Their job was to make sure all of the work was in the pipeline and delivered on time and on budget. Somewhere along the way, as agencies streamlined, that position went away. But now it’s back. And it’s making a huge difference in agencies client retention and profitability.Read More →
Content marketing is growing up. It’s no longer about throwing out random social posts, random blog posts, or making an infographic once a quarter. Instead, we need to begin asking the questions (for our own agency and our clients): What are we building? What can we become as a brand that is of value to this audience of people we care about? Who can we be for our prospects, our customers, and our business partners? And I think an agency’s role in that can be both exciting and profitable. Why? Because one of the biggest frustrations for most agency owners is that it’s getting harder to have a seat at the client’s strategy table. Agencies are being commoditized and relegated to the status of order takers all too often.Read More →
In last week’s encore interview with Robin Boehler — we talked about the biz dev practices that she and the team at Mercer Island Group see when they’re sitting on the client’s side of the room. If you listened to that episode — you heard me say that if you implement the best practices Robin shared, you’re going to see the difference in your win rate. And because I want you to be as prepared as possible as you step into 2019 — I invited Steve Boehler and Lindsay O’Neil, also from Mercer Island Group, to join me for this week’s episode. Think of this as a new biz one-two punch! There is nobody more in the fray of seeing why agencies win, lose, or how the pitch process plays out than Steve, Lindsay, and their team. And nobody is more generous in sharing what they observe. This episode will give you the inside look at how agencies present themselves (accidentally and on purpose) and the influence each nuance has on our prospects as they weigh one agency against the others.Read More →
Business development is a topic that is always front-and-center for agency owners. So I’m welcoming back one of our most popular guests, Robin Boehler from Mercer Island Group, to talk to us about the observations she and her team have made as they work with both agencies and clients who are asking to be matched with agencies. From those observations, Robin will outline some of the best practices that we need to be mindful of as we work to grow our agencies. One of my favorite songs from the play Hamilton is “In the Room Where it Happens” where Aaron Burr laments that he’s not an insider, seeing how decisions are made. Mercer Island Group is always front and center in that room, as brands decide which agency has earned their business. You and I, as agency owners, are like Burr. We’re never going to be invited in, but fortunately, we have access to someone who is always there. In this podcast, Robin will help us understand how clients respond to the work we do, our level of preparation before and during a pitch, and how we communicate our understanding of the client’s business issues. Sadly, sometimes the best fit agency doesn’t win.Read More →
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 can’t 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.Read More →
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.Read More →
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 […]Read More →
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 […]Read More →
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, […]Read More →
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 […]Read More →