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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.

When Was Your Last Public Speaking Opportunity? Here’s How to Brush Up on Your Skills.

They say that the only thing we fear more than public speaking is death -- but the process doesn't have to be that stress-inducing. In this piece I recently contributed to Entrepreneur.com I discuss how you can strategically approach  landing paid or free speaking engagements and bolstering your thought leadership. 

By |July 23rd, 2021|

Tag teaming with prospects

We all know it’s easier to sell to someone who knows and trusts us.  In fact, it’s essential.  We can either try to create that sense of connection and trust during the sales process or it can already exist long before the sales dance begins.  I have seen many agencies build their entire biz dev strategy around the latter — creating opportunities for getting to know and collaborate with prospects and then initiating the sales conversation once that collaboration has build the foundation of the relationship.  One of the methods for creating this pre-sales bond is by inviting your prospects to co-create content with you.  Whether it is being a guest on your podcast, featuring them in an article you are writing, interviewing them for a book or some other way of putting the spotlight on them — it works.  Forbes asked me to write about some best practices when it comes to collaborative content and I’m hoping you find it useful if you are thinking about deploying this strategy. By the way — this is also a brilliant strategy to help clients adopt as well.  Practice on yourself, demonstrate how it works, and then create a program for them using the same methodology.  It’s a very sustainable way to generate fees for the agency and new relationships/sales for your client! This was originally published in the weekly AMI newsletter.  To subscribe, click here.

By |July 16th, 2021|

How A Singular Focus On Revenue Limits Your Agency’s Success

As an agency management consultant, I frequently ask agency owners what goals they’ve set for their businesses. Without exception, the first — and often only — goal they cite is more revenue. Unfortunately, revenue is a vanity metric. Bringing in more money might make you feel good, but it doesn’t always indicate meaningful growth. If you’re only monitoring and measuring revenue, you’re doing yourself a disservice. In this piece I recently contributed to Forbes.com I discuss how setting other growth goals is the key to moving forward and determining success.

By |July 9th, 2021|

Is it really thought leadership?

In case you haven’t heard, you are supposed to be a thought leader and your clients are as well.  Thought leadership goes by many names — authority, expertise, having a niche, being an expert, etc. But at the end of the day it’s all about having a depth of expertise and sharing it so that others can learn and identify you as a subject matter expert. That’s, unfortunately, the part that many agencies miss the mark.  Our content is generic and impersonal.  Sure — we’re telling people why they should care about the latest Pantone color of the year or five ways to maximize something vital — but it’s not specifically about our unique expertise and it doesn’t give the reader a sense of who you are as a leader or a person. If I ask you to think of people that create content that you actually look forward to reading and find value in, my guess is that it’s most often going to be a person (as opposed to a company) and someone who has earned the right to be seen as an expert.  Good news — that’s you!  You have spent decades honing your craft and earning the right to be respected for what you know.  Your content should reflect that. I wrote an article for Spin Sucks on how marketers get thought leadership wrong and what we can do about it.  I absolutely know for a fact that this needs to be a significant strategy in your biz dev efforts.  I have seen it work many times for agencies big and small.  I’d love to see how you could increase genuine connection, open the door to new relationships, and carve out a [...]

By |July 2nd, 2021|

RE:Think Innovation is the book you need to read right now!

I'm not that definitive about a specific book as a general rule, so you know this one is special. But if there’s anything I know about 2021 and beyond — the agencies and organizations who consistently deliver big and bold ideas that solve new problems are the ones who are going to win the day. We've always known this truth.  If there’s one thing every agency has to be able to do, it’s innovate. We are paid to be creative thinkers on command. We have to be able to generate ideas on a regular basis that serves both the agency and our clients. But now -- in 2021? It's survival.  Both for our agencies and the clients we serve. One of the biggest challenges in terms of being able to do this consistently is that it’s usually only the agency owner or a handful of leaders who can do this work. What if everyone in the agency had the skills and confidence to be an innovative thinker? We’re reinventing everything right now and what an amazing time to be front and center with ideas that will light the way. Carla Johnson’s brilliant book RE:Think Innovation will remind you that you were born with the ability to innovate but it got dampened along the way. Fortunately — Carla wrote this to show you how to awaken it in yourself and your entire team. This book will show you how to do it, how to teach it and how to sustain and scale it. The book launches today… and you can get all kind of goodies if you order today! To hear my podcast interview with Carla, go here. To register for the workshop Carla and I [...]

By |June 29th, 2021|

Cultivating a Workplace Environment That Excels in Strategic Thinking

What if I told you that strategic thinking is a mindset that any workplace can nurture and regularly deploy? Your agency is likely brimming with big-picture thinkers, so don’t try to do it by yourself. In this piece I recently contributed to Business 2 Community I discuss ways to teach and empower your team to answer strategy questions as they arise.

By |June 25th, 2021|

Your Biggest Roadblock

Last week’s newsletter about many agency owners needing a break and using the summer lull to replenish yourself so you’re ready to push seemed to strike a nerve.  I heard back from many of you that you’re pretty sure I am spying on you through the window or have bugged your office.  (I promise — neither!) Here’s the sad part of all of that.  Most of you won’t get away.  You believe you can’t leave or the sky will fall.  For every one of you that will book the flight, rent the cabin, or plan the spa day — there will be far more of you who just keep gutting it out and getting more worn down each day. The biggest roadblock that is preventing you from replenishing yourself is you. This isn’t about the money.  You don’t have to spend a dime to re-charge.  Take a week off and take your kids to the local pool, museums, and parks.  Sleep late, read a trashy novel and binge watch something.  Go visit your parents and let them spoil you rotten.  Whatever it takes — just give yourself a breather. I really want to challenge your belief that the agency cannot survive without you for a few days.  Your team will rise to the occasion. Your clients will understand that you can’t work 365 days a year.   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finally convinced an agency owner to take some time away and after they return, they’re so proud of their crew and how they tackled whatever came their way.  Not only do you need the respite, but your employees need to know you have confidence in their abilities.  Hand them the [...]

By |June 18th, 2021|

Why automation is your greatest ally – if you use it right

Marketing automation encompasses many different applications, including automated lead nurturing campaigns and personalised touchpoints, among others. The key is to determine what makes the most sense for your company initiatives and follow these three steps to build rapport and provide value to potential clients throughout the sales process. In this piece I recently contributed to MarketingTechNews.net I discuss how when used properly, marketing automation can make your sales process more efficient and scalable.

By |June 4th, 2021|

Are you tired?

We’re about to round second base on the year and kick off towards home plate. Does the idea of pushing yourself to accelerate and notching it up a gear seems daunting right now? Are you tired? You’ve been pushing hard since mid-January and my guess is that your tank is about out of gas. Before you round that bend, you might need to re-fuel. Not sure if you’re running on fumes? Look for these signs: It’s tougher to get excited about new work, email inquiries, or even awesome client results. Your attention span is shrinking. Every shiny object, squirrel, and Netflix series is calling your name. You’re not walking the agency as much (if you're back in the office) — when you get in, you isolate yourself and hunker down in your office. You’re having a hard time getting revved up to chase new opportunities. You aren’t as productive. Just getting through your must do list is a bit of a struggle. Many of you will misinterpret these signs as indicators of age, waning interest, or perhaps that it’s time to hang up your cleats. For 99% of you, that’s just not the case. It just means you’re tired and need to recharge. Agency owners are not so great at that, so you need to be intentional about it. Here’s how to get the energy you need to round the bend and finish strong. Plan a getaway to someplace that will fill you up. Based on budget, family responsibilities, health issues or other factors — this is going to be very unique to you. But every single one of you has the capacity to get away for a few days, unplug and reboot. Your agency [...]

By |May 28th, 2021|
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