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 hundred 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.

Have you lost your swagger as an agency?

The recession damaged a lot of agencies a few years ago, but one of the most damaging aspects of the financial crisis was that many agencies and their owners had to scramble just to keep the doors open. They were cutting deals, taking work they shouldn’t have and getting by on less for a long time. Unfortunately, for some owners — they haven’t been able to shake that stink. I believe one of the biggest impediments to your agency’s new business efforts is the lack of swagger. I don’t mean cockiness. I mean confidence. I want agency owners to make prospects prove to them that they’d be a great client. As much as you have to earn their business, I want them to have to earn the right to work with you and your team. I think if you can bring back your swagger and a little bit of attitude — you’ll actually win more and better business. I explored this idea over at Agency Post and I’d welcome your input. How do you keep your swagger?

By |March 18th, 2019|

Losing Employees to Clients or Competitors? This Is the Secret to Retaining Them

Businesses lose employees all the time. What’s the problem? In a word, culture. You can throw money at top talent all you want, but if you don’t inspire your teams, you’ll struggle to attract employees in competitive job markets or retain your best workers in the face of tempting offers. To create that happy culture, you don’t need to start Free Beer Fridays or let everyone leave after lunch. You simply need to improve your emotional awareness and give your employees the environment, motivation and perks that matter to them. You need to create the culture. Entreprenuer.com recently tapped me to provide some tips on how to create a culture that not only attracts the best employees, but also keeps them at your company when headhunters come calling. I’d love for you to check it out and see if any of these ideas may help you amplify your agency’s culture.    

By |March 16th, 2019|

Are you truly different?

We’re a full service, integrated marketing agency. We partner with our clients. Sound like something you might say? I hate to tell you-you and most other agencies-many agencies struggle with how to truly differentiate themselves from other agencies. And it isn’t easy. But it starts with recognizing that every client is not a good client for you and that there is a recipe for your perfect clients. Those are the prospects you should pursue with a vengeance. There are plenty of them out there to keep your agency growing and prospering. Agency Post asked me to offer some options if an agency is truly ready to take the bold leap of differentiation. Check it out here. I expect some of you will have a strong opinion about this and I’d love to hear it. Our Fall workshops are starting to fill up. If you want to invest in your AEs or yourself — check them out before they sell out.

By |March 11th, 2019|

It Takes an Agency To Raise A Creative Idea: Here Are 4 Strategies To Spur It

Collaborative creativity has turned agency life upside down. Account services personnel are just as likely to bring innovative concepts to the table as graphic designers. In this rearranged agency atmosphere, managers and CMOs have to learn how to bring forth everyone in-house to achieve creative genius. In order for agencies to develop a culture where creativity is a scientific problem-solving technique, the key is to see creativity as a process rather than an innate talent. Creativity is a teachable group sport: All it takes is a coach willing to lead a team to creative victory through old-fashioned trial and error. If you're seeking the tools to become your agency's all-star creative coach, Forbes.com recently asked me to put together a resource to help agencies learn some of the most important strategies to spur creativity in your team. Let me know what you think- I’d love to hear the creative tools you use to bring out the best in your agency.

By |March 9th, 2019|

Are you indispensable?

For many agency owners, the constant grind of winning new business but feeling like you’re treading water because it just replaces the revenue from lost business is grueling and disheartening. We all know that it’s tough to make money on a new client right off the bat. No matter how aggressively you price it, you end up investing a lot to get them onboard. The saving grace comes from consistency in your client roster and enjoying the profitability of a client who has been around for a year or more which can really offset the startup investment you make in new clients. Understanding and controlling client departures should be a critical element of your new business program. Part of that equation should be becoming as indispensable as possible. I explored that topic over at SmartBlog on Leadership and discussed ways you can create multiple relationships inside the organization so you aren’t as vulnerable if your day-to-day contact leaves. I hope it triggers some discussion inside your shop and even some modifications to your client retention plan.

By |March 4th, 2019|

To Stand Out Amid a Sea of Qualified Talent. You have to Think Like a Marketer

A stellar resume isn’t enough to stand out in a pack of fellow applicants anymore. Sticking to traditional methods no longer works; applicants must prioritize new methods to differentiate themselves. The key is to think like a marketer and devise a personalized campaign for each company with which you’re hoping to land an interview. The most effective method will show possible employers that you are a genuine, relatable individual who’d make a great addition to their team. If you're inspired to start a self-marketing campaign, and improve your visibility as an applicant, check out the article I recently wrote for Recruiter.com to learn how to stand out amid the sea of qualified applicants.  Let me know what you think!

By |March 2nd, 2019|

Are you keeping up on delivering digital?

I learned a few things spending two days with 30+ agency employees who are charged with delivering digital (websites, digital media, SEO/SEM, Adwords, apps, marketing automation, etc.) to agency clients. We did a deep dive into how they’re getting it done and how they’re staying current. One recurring theme kept cropping up and that was the idea that agency owners and your account service team need to stay current too. You don’t need to know how to do it, but you sure need to know how to talk about it and sell it. You and your AEs also need to, if you haven’t already, wrap your heads around the complexity of the work and how fluid it is in terms of the tools, techniques and unfortunately, the time it takes to get something done. Bottom line is that the agencies that are making money on their digital projects are the ones who are working together to assemble proposals, timelines and setting client expectations. That last one, in particular, is a doozy!

By |February 25th, 2019|

Outdoor Advertising is Conquering. Why Aren’t You Using It?

Billboards aren’t just background on road trips. Integration of outdoor advertising and strategic placement continues to work in the digital age. People spend so much time in front of screens now that real-life advertisements have more power than they used to. The pathway from outdoor ads to increased revenue is straightforward -- but success depends entirely on execution. Brands not only need to expand their presence outside, but also to create memorable experiences that make the most of their ad budgets. If you're interested in learning how to expand your advertising reach, I was recently tapped by Entrepreneur.com to write an article on outdoor advertising and what it can do for your agency.   I’d love for you to check it out and let me know if you think outdoor advertising is a tool your agency would consider utilizing.

By |February 23rd, 2019|

Painful Truth for Many Agency Owners

I have a brilliant idea that I know could net me billions (with a b) of dollars. I should recruit/hire and train new business people for agencies. I could charge a premium for these sales superstars who not only understand the agency business but can have a deep discussion around any business issue and can also sell an agency’s abilities with passion and conviction. Sadly, the only humans who possess those unique qualities are you — agency owners. Yes — every once in a while, an agency spots and recruits the rare unicorn who can sell as well as an agency owner but for every success story I hear, I hear 99 tales of woe. The folks at Agency Post asked me to explore the idea of the mythical, magical new business guy and what agency owners should do instead and if you really want to dig into building a sustainable new business program for your agency — check out our online, on-demand course, Agency New Business Blueprint.

By |February 18th, 2019|

Challenges and Opportunities: 3 Ways to Build a “Riches and Niches” Business Model

Every company has a niche—even those that serve other companies. Marketers need to understand that opportunity is not limited—value is. Most agencies offer a wide variety of services, but only a few can claim to be the go-to experts in specific fields. An expert agency in one field is far more marketable than a jack-of-all-trades agency in no area If you’re searching to identify your agency’s specific spark, Marketo blog recently asked me to create a resource for their readers with tips to identify and dominate their businesses’ own niche in the agency world. I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what niche your agency capitalizes on.

By |February 16th, 2019|

5 Mistakes that cost agency owners money