About Drew McLellan

For almost 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 run) agency in 1995. Additionally, Drew owns and leads 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.

How to Conduct Market Research Without Breaking the Bank

It’s a tricky balance: considering your budget and exploring the benefits of “luxuries” like research. But what if you could benefit from the insights research provides without breaking the bank? In this piece I recently contributed to Business2Community.com, I discuss how to do your own research for your agency because if you want to be effective, research needs to be an ongoing part of your marketing efforts.

By |April 16th, 2021|

After A Brutal Year For Everyone, What’s Next For Agencies?

The year 2020 was an arduous journey for agencies, so I know that you feel completely overwhelmed. Now isn't the time for more to-do list tasks - it's time for some acknowledgment. In this piece I recently contributed to MediaPost.com I discuss reflecting back on 2020 to realize your accomplishments, take a rejuvenating break, and when you're ready how you can prepare to start 2021 off strong.

By |April 9th, 2021|

We should be better communicators

I’m betting you have said on more than one occasion, “isn’t it funny, given what we do for a living, that we aren’t better communicators?” And you’re right it is funny in an ironic, funny way. But definitely not in a laugh all the way to the bank sort of way. In my work with agency owners and leadership teams, there is almost always a broken line of communication. It can come in many shapes and sizes. It can be a situation where Bob said something 10 years ago and Babette is still clinging to it like it’s gospel even though Bob has long since changed his thinking on the issue. Or Babette made a big announcement at a state of the agency meeting three months ago and is surprised that no one accurately remembers the details. Or Bob made a statement and no one asked any clarifying questions so all kinds of assumptions were made and held for way too long. You know, from your work with clients, that this is not an issue that in unique to agencies. It’s a challenge in every organization. But in small to mid-sized agencies, it can be a killer. It can cause people to shut down, quit, or make a mistake that costs you serious money. How do we solve it? We don’t shortcut the messaging — we may have been thinking about some aspect of the business for awhile, but our team has not had the benefit of walking that path with us. We need to give them the back story and all of the supporting information so they can fully understand the core idea. We can model asking clarifying questions — you know that it [...]

By |April 2nd, 2021|

You’re hiring under a time crunch. Here’s how to retain your new workers

You can’t afford to make a snap decision, especially if your revenue took a hit during the pandemic, because the cost of wrong hires is high. In this piece I recently contributed to FastCompany.com I discuss the steps to take if you want to hire for talent—and longevity.  

By |March 26th, 2021|

Why can’t I find a successful salesperson for my agency?

Almost every agency owner I know wishes they didn’t have to do sales and wants to hire it out to an employee. I hear this every day because what we do is hard to sell.  99 out of 100 salespeople that an agency hires will not sell more than their initial salary and are usually fired within the first year.  To be a successful agency salesperson, you have to understand not the WHAT of our work but the WHY of our work.  How do we really add value, increase sales etc.  You also need to have super high level business conversations and most people can’t do that unless they have been a CMO, business owner, etc.  If you don’t have the real life experience, it’s tough to know how to start or carry the conversation. People default to the “what keeps you up at night” BS because they can’t actually dig in and talk the talk. That level of business acumen is not easy to come by.  The few successful salespeople inside agencies have at least 2-3 of these factors: The agency is a wonder bread factory (they have a very narrow focus of deliverables AND clientele so it’s easy to learn the nuances, because there aren’t that many) The agency has a narrow niche/niches so the sales person does not have to understand too many industries or verticals The agency is truly creating thought leadership content on a consistent basis so they can claim an authority position on their niche/niches. The sales person has already sold a high ticket ($25K and above) item/services to the same industry (has contacts and context) The sales person was a very successful account executive within your agency who [...]

By |March 19th, 2021|

What College Didn’t Teach You About Successfully Running An Agency

Start by embracing the fact that agency life isn’t static. Marketing isn’t like math, where two plus two always equals four. The factors that lead to success are always changing. General business practices might not apply, and competitors won’t share their secrets with you. In this piece I recently contributed to Forbes.com I discuss why you have to take the time to educate yourself and invest in the research and planning necessary to make your agency a success and the five steps you should follow.

By |March 12th, 2021|

Why Keeping Top Talent Should Be Your Top Priority in 2021

Employees want to feel appreciated and like they belong -- show your employees that you care about them and that you're invested in their development. In this article I recently published to Entrepreneur.com, I discuss how to show your top performers that they are at the top of your list and why you should invest in the employees who make up the foundations of your team.

By |March 5th, 2021|

5 Ways to Prep for an Agency Sale

"Even if you’ve done everything possible to maximize your agency’s valuation, there will likely be surprises throughout the selling process." In this piece I recently contributed to Spinsucks.com I discuss how to maximize your company’s value to prep for the sale of your agency. No matter the size of your business, there’s a buyer out there.

By |February 26th, 2021|

The Benefits of Niching Your Agency in 2021

"Successful agencies understand who their target clients are. Every other aspect of business — sales, operations, marketing, etc. — becomes infinitely easier once you know what market you’re working in."   In this piece I recently contributed to MediaPost I discuss how as an agency, it's important to cement your verticals and own those markets in order to scale your business in a consistent and planned way. That way, you'll be protected even if one pipeline dries up.

By |February 19th, 2021|

How stressed are you?

We manage our people, we manage client expectations and we manage our finances.  And then there’s email management, biz dev management and a host of other things that are under our watch.  But all of that focus on making sure that everything is running like clockwork can also jack up our stress.  That stress shows up in a lot of little ways:   We are short tempered with our team, family and friends We feel like we can never let up or wind down We miss deadlines (internal or external) We fall behind, putting incredible pressure on our teams to cover our rear ends We are distracted when we’re with our family and friends We  feel our jaw clenching, our head pounding, or our back knotting up   Our “normal” work day is to run around and put out fires all day.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I have ever had a work day that played out exactly how I thought it was going to when I woke up that morning.  We have chosen to live in chaos.  And sometimes, we even like it.  But like it or not — it’s our reality.   And that’s before you add in our personal life and the challenges that sometimes come from that side of the equation.   The truth is — we can’t escape stress.  They say, in moderate doses, it’s actually good for us.  But left unchecked, it can diminish our effectiveness and we bring a less than ideal version of ourselves to work and home.   And we all know — there are some serious physical/health consequences to boot.   To survive that reality, we need coping mechanisms.  Yes, I [...]

By |February 12th, 2021|
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