Agency Smarts

How are you investing your time?

I had a great conversation (podcast) with Andrew Dymski, the host of Inbound Agency Journey about how and where agency owners should be investing their time. We talked a little inbound but the lion’s share of the conversation would be relevant for any agency owner. Take a listen here. In the podcast, I talk about how a primary focus for any agency owner should be new business. In fact, about 50% of your time and attention should be devoted to it. How are you doing on that? To make that happen, you need to get out of the weeds of daily client work. You also need a plan of attack. Take a look at our online business course - AMI’s Agency New Business Blueprint. It just might be what you need to help you get out of the weeds. Like all AMI work, if you don’t like it, we’ll give you the money back. Check out the content here and hurry up before 2020 budgets and plans are created and you’re not part of the mix.

By |May 20th, 2019|

Stop talking about yourself

I spend a lot of time in various agency conference rooms, critiquing their new business pitches. The invitation to do that usually comes after a streak of “we loved you, buts” or worse — not even making it to the final face to face meeting stage. The truth is — you are pitching your agency every day, whether it’s a formal review where you put on a suit and stand up in front of a committee or you’re sitting across the table from a prospect talking over coffee. Whatever the circumstance — the biggest (and most common) mistake agencies make is that we’re so enamored with our fill in the blank (proprietary process, programmatic prowess, award-winning creative, etc.) that we forget that is not what the prospect needs. They need results. They need proof that their marketing dollars are working. They need leads and sales. Go grab your last three proposals/pitches (word docs, PPT — whatever the format) and give yourself a score. How often do you talk about your agency (our work, our results, our team, our process, etc.) versus the tangible results that the prospect can reasonably expect if they hire you? If you’re honest and your proposals look like most — you are not going to get a passing grade.

By |April 29th, 2019|

Agency owners need to embrace the 50-20-30 rule

Given that it's the Monday after a holiday weekend, I have one question for you ... Where were you?  Most agency owners can barely squeak out a long holiday weekend, let alone a family vacation. And even when you get away, you aren’t really disconnected. There are lots of issues with this reality and the costs are significant. It’s tough on your relationships, you’re super stressed, and if something doesn’t change... your agency isn’t sellable. But other than that, it’s a great strategy. So what do you do about it? That’s what iMedia asked me to write about and my answer was — you embrace the 50-20-30 rule. In the article, I describe how I believe agency owners should be spending their time and how to actually own a business as opposed to just having a stressful job. Check it out and let me know what you think. Our September AE bootcamp is getting pretty full. If you want to send some of your crew — it would be good to get them registered soon. Click here to register.

By |April 22nd, 2019|

Stalled Projects = Shrinking Profits

You know the drill. Client or prospect calls. They have an urgent need and you drop everything to figure out how to help them. About a third of the way in — when you need something (copy, assets, information, etc.) from them, suddenly there’s a grinding halt and you wait. And wait. It’s part of agency life. Unfortunately, so is that sucking sound you hear as the profits get drained from the project because of the delay. The longer you tread water, the more the work costs you and it’s difficult to recoup the expense of trying to cajole your client into giving you what you need. The delays aren’t always on the client. Sometimes an outside force creates the lag time. But either way — your agency ends up holding the bag. You can greatly reduce that drain on your profitability if you anticipate it up front and build a contingency into your scope documents/contracts. In another blog post, I shared some language you can use to protect yourself from these delays.  Feel free to use it verbatim or modify it to fit your agency’s voice. But don’t leave yourself more exposed than you need to be. Check it out and let me know what you think. Our September AE Bootcamp is getting pretty full. If you want to send some of your crew — it would be good to get them registered soon.

By |April 15th, 2019|

How to Use Voice Controlled Devices to Drive New Business Development

Voice controlled devices (VCDs) like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri are exploding in the marketplace. There is no sign that the trend toward voice search and assistance is slowing down, and I’m here to assert that this trend can be advantageous to agency business development. As a matter of fact, I believe strongly that voice represents that next opportunity, that next patch of fertile ground where you can plant your flag. The opportunity for business development with voice controlled devices is big—huge even. Let’s do a quick dive into the data on VCD usage and where it’s headed. Then I will share what I consider the four top new business development strategies around voice. These are great to use in building your own business, and also strategies you can easily employ with clients. Voice is Getting Louder The market for VCDs is exploding. Echo and Echo dot were the best selling items last year for Amazon, which makes them the biggest seller on the biggest online retail platform. That’s big. In addition, once purchased, these items are frequently used. Google did a study that found 72 percent of people who own a voice-activated speaker or a smart speaker report that the devices are a regular part of their daily routine. Voice Controlled Devices are Doing More Last I checked, the Alexa Library is 30,000 skills, so 30,000 pieces of software that you can install into your Echo and then ask Alexa to do certain things for you. Google Home's library is less than 1,000. So in the assistance space, Alexa wins. But obviously, just like everywhere else, Google dominates voice search. Even more to the point, voice is on its way to becoming the default [...]

By |November 1st, 2018|

How to Multiply Agency Success With the Magic of Opportunity Stacking

There are so many things to do when marketing your business — how in the world do you get the most bang for your buck? I have already discussed how consistent action beats perfect action. But there is another principle that is essential to getting the most out of every single business development opportunity, which I call “stacking.” Stacking is the deliberate process of looking for ways that a singular marketing activity can be leveraged by “stacking” other opportunities for reach, exposure or impact on top of it. For example, if you are going to take the time to do a live talk about your core area of expertise at a local setting, why not stack getting photos and a video of the event on top of it? Why not live stream the talk for your non-local prospects? Why not arrange to meet a strategic attendee for coffee or dinner after the event? When you look for all the possible ways to maximize a marketing activity in your business, you will have a much better return on your investment of time, energy and resources. A stacking example Recently, Susan Baier, Chris Lee and I completed Crack the Challenge Code, a small business survey that looked at the attitudes small business owners have toward obstacles. This research is essential to do a better job in our respective businesses, since most of what our clients struggle with is not what to do (we all know we should market more consistently, write great content, build our product funnels, etc), but few know how to do it (we get in our own way by becoming overwhelmed, feeling imposter syndrome, sticking our heads in the sand, etc). Putting together and [...]

By |October 25th, 2018|

4 Questions You MUST Ask To Uncover Your Prospect’s Needs

The tone and outcome of the sales conversation are set into motion by how well you uncovered your prospect's needs early on. It’s impossible to adequately sell if you don’t even have a clear understanding of what your prospect needed in the first place! While that sounds like a no-brainer, many sales pros rattle off their list of differentiators and wait for the prospect to be impressed instead of asking clear, concise questions and listening to their responses actively. There are two types of need you can uncover during these interactions: aspirational needs and frustration needs. Aspirational needs include things that the prospect wants and does not yet have. Frustration needs are born out of the pain points the prospect is experiencing with their current solution that they’re looking to solve. Uncovering your prospect's needs is simpler than you think Believe it or not, the four key questions that drive the uncovering the prospect's needs portion of the sale are pretty simple. The first three should be answered by the prospect and the last one, which may be the most overlooked, should be answered by none other than you! So, let’s dive into the four questions you must ask to uncover your prospect's needs. 1. What do they need? Straightforward, right? So many sales pros tell leads what they need instead of asking the lead what they think their needs are. If you believe in your product or service and if you know it like the back of your hand; it’s easy to assume that your prospect knows they need it. But you need to ask thoughtful questions to see where they are at. You don’t need to bury the question here; you can simply [...]

By |October 18th, 2018|

False Advertising: What Is It, and How Does Our Agency Avoid It?

True or false? Anyone involved in the advertising process can be held liable under most regulations and statutes that govern false advertising. Oh. so. true. The advertiser, the Agency, and anyone else involved who knowingly, or sometimes negligently, fails to follow the rules, is on the hook. In addition to traditional and digital advertising, when you think about the current state of influencer marketing, and the tangled web of risks around each brand and #ad campaign, it’s easier to visualize the vulnerability of agencies when it comes to implementing these tactics. False claims and advertising can lead to financial, legal, and brand loyalty and reputation issues. It can also completely disrupt your Agency’s relationship with a valued client. But what exactly are the rules around false advertising and where do they come into play? Understanding False Advertising False advertising involves the stating of untrue claims about the performance, reliability, functions and features of whatever product or service is being promoted. This not only applies to the way a product works, but also includes its origin and the way it is manufactured. It isn’t just outright lying in advertising that gets you in trouble with regulators, but also making claims or omissions that could mislead regulators, competitors or consumers. Actual False Claims: Stating information that is clearly false and incorrect. Misleading Claims: Messages that allude to or imply incorrect information that can mislead the buying audience. Unsubstantiated Claims: The presentation of information that can’t be verified, including that of competition. Four Ways Your Agency Can Get Into Trouble 1. No substantiation of claims Do not make any claims about the product or service that you or your client cannot verify. Sources such as product research, consumer [...]

By |October 11th, 2018|

3 Science-Backed Reasons You Need to Post on LinkedIn

The image that most professionals have about posting on social media isn’t too positive. In fact, it’s usually downright horrible. When you picture “posting on social media,” what image comes up? Teenagers sprawled on their beds and posting Instagram selfies on their phone? The hipster taking a picture of their food at a restaurant for Facebook? Your friend who can’t seem to stop posting their every thought to Twitter? If that’s how you view social media engagement, it’s easy to blow it off. It doesn’t seem connected to the goal of winning more business. But what if I told you that there was actually science behind why you should be online? There are very specific professional outcomes that you can support through regular and consistent engagement on social media. And for your professional goals, there’s still no better place to spend that time than on LinkedIn. Unconsciously (and Powerfully) Influence Your Prospects Through LinkedIn If you want to build your credibility, influence, and reach, there are no tools as efficient, scalable, and accessible as social media platforms. Social selling advocates tend to focus on using digital platforms for research, pipeline-building, and information-gathering, and rightly so. There are also powerful ways that all professionals can use it for building a stronger brand among your network. You can use it to make your presence known and actively influence your connections. And your connections might not even know that it’s happening, because much of what influences us isn’t being processed at a conscious level. We can see this by looking at the ideas and writing of researchers like Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman, and Sheena Iyenga. Central to their research are the cognitive biases and unconscious heuristics that influence [...]

By |October 4th, 2018|

Consistency Beats Perfection In Agency Marketing

To make it in business, we need three main things: A viable, valuable product or service that solves a real problem A way to sell and deliver it A defined group of people to sell it to But checking all three boxes will not do anything for your bank account. You must let people know every day that you have a business, that you love what you do and that you want to solve their problems. No agency survives without consistent marketing. So many of us delay sharing about our businesses because we don’t feel ready. We wait for the perfect pitch, platform or process to get started. We wait for our website to be built, or for our About Page to be perfect or for our new head shots to be ready for our fabulous business cards. We wait for the perfect newsletter template before sending an email to our list. Common barriers to consistent agency marketing Here are some common barriers that prevent people from consistent agency marketing that I just gathered from business owners on Facebook: I am too busy delivering services to clients to market my business I don’t know what to do in what order Marketing technology feels too complicated I don’t have my pitch nailed I don’t want to waste my time Boy, do I get it! No one wants to feel sloppy or unorganized. And I am not advocating that you are. Building a clear, effective brand story and agency marketing system takes planning, money and time. But given your current level of information, tools and resources, couldn’t you do something each day that would increase your chance to get ideal clients? Our starting point without a big [...]

By |September 20th, 2018|