The Biggest Challenges Agencies Face Today with Michael Farmer

Running or owning an agency is not easy. And it seems that these agency problems and challenges are getting tougher to face every year. Many agencies are watching their workloads grow while their fees and profits seem frozen in time. My podcast guest Michael Farmer has been tracking the evolution of agency work for the past 25 years. He says that the challenges of modern agency owners can largely be traced to the industry turning a blind eye to the issues of scope creep while at the same time, not evolving their fees or payment structures. While this issue can seem overwhelming, Michael has a proven model that will show you how to get a handle on your scope creep and a way to figure out the appropriate charges for that work. Michael and I will walk you through it all as well as: Some of the big problems and challenges agencies face today Why the future is bright for small to mid-sized independent agencies Why your agency needs a uniform approach for working with clients and an example of what that looks like The documented scope of work document: what should this look like? Why it’s harder than ever for agencies to make money Michael’s “price for the work” metric Creating accountability with client heads Why agencies probably will have an easier time fixing scope of work than they think What agencies can do right now to start fixing some of these mistakes Michael Farmer grew up in the Midwest and was the first child in his family to go to college. He went to Princeton on an NROTC scholarship and worked at various jobs to pay the difference. After that, he spent 5 years [...]

The 4 Most Common Financial Mistakes that are Costing Your Agency Money

Whether you like it or not, there are several financial mistakes being made in your agency today that are costing you money. You’re in business to make money, so every step you can take to prevent these mistakes is worth it’s weight in gold, literally.  Most of these mistakes happen slowly over time and just eat away at your profits little by little.   This solocast is all about these money draining mistakes and what you can do to plug any holes you may have. In this solocast I will cover:     Gross Billings vs. Adjusted Gross Income How agencies lose money when pricing Why scope creep leads to little or no profit Why your agency needs to issue change orders and how to turn this into a process Why you need to use the one page business plan How to know if you need a better new business plan (hint: you probably do) Why you need a tax advisor not a tax preparer Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency over the last 20-years. And all through the year, he straddles the fence of working in his agency and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies in a variety of ways. He works with agency owners in peer network groups, teaches workshops for owners and their leadership teams, teaches AE bootcamps, and does a lot of consulting. Because he works with a lot of agencies every year — he has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York [...]

Building Your Business for the Future with Jason Swenk

One of the goals of many agency owners is to build a business that has enough value that someone will want to buy it from them down the road. If you got a call with a cash offer for your agency tomorrow -- would you be ready? Would your agency be? That’s exactly what happened to my podcast guest, Jason Swenk and because he had a plan -- he was ready.   He calls himself the defender of truth, justice, and effective business practices and he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to agency value. In his opinion, the only difference between an eight-figure agency owner and someone who is struggling is their systems. It's not about how smart they are or their experience. It all comes down to having the right systems in place. This is just one area that Jason’s expertise can help you in building your business/agency with the future in mind. Learn more as Jason and I explore: How Jason prepared his agency for sale The importance of systems inside an agency What to do when the systems you put in place make you nonessential for day-to-day operations Lead generation: why this is the biggest pain point for agencies and what can be done about it How agencies can deliver exceptional value to clients willing to pay a premium price and how to get those clients in the first place How to recognize which clients to seek out and which to avoid Jason’s Agency Playbook Things agencies do to get in their own way Agencies and niche: why you need to start very, very small What can agencies do right now to take action on the ideas in this [...]

Developing A Content Marketing Strategy that Actually Works with Joe Pulizzi

Strategy. Consistency. Focus. These are the key elements of content marketing strategy success in today’s content marketing world, according to my podcast guest, Joe Pulizzi. Joe is the founder of Content Marketing Institute and it’s cornerstone event Content Marketing World so he’s been teaching and living content for a long time. Today’s agencies have to figure out the content game. You need to know when your client needs to create content, how to make it sticky and relevant and how to do it profitably. The winning content formula of strategy + consistency + focus is what it takes to build an audience and that is where the value lies - in getting, keeping and maintaining an audience. Content for content’s sake is just more noise.   Joe and I help you to put this content strategy puzzle together by showing you: What agencies and clients need to do to develop a content marketing strategy that actually succeeds Why you need to focus on your email list more than people you are connected with on social media How agencies can leverage their own content better Why you need to focus on content in specific platforms over trying to be everywhere What differentiates the agencies that do content marketing extremely well Old school deliverables that still work today Why you need a content marketing mission statement Why the editing process is a crucial part of content marketing The ways smart agencies get smart enough to create valuable content Things agencies can do right now to get the content marketing techniques discussed in this episode rolling Joe’s events Joe Pulizzi is the founder of Content Marketing Institute, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes [...]

Understanding Agency Finance and Business Valuation with Donya Powell

A lot of agency owners are accidental agency owners. Do you remember the day that you looked around and realized that you were running a business? For many agency owners, that wasn’t really the plan. And even if it was – we’re not prepared for it. We grew up in either the account service world or the creative world and avoided anything that even smelled of math or agency finance. But now, as agency owners, we need to have a handle on what is going on in our agencies from the financial side. Where do I stand financially and how can I improve my agency’s financial health?   My podcast guest, Donya Powell is a CFO who works with agencies both big and small, helping them with everything from succession planning and selling their agency to financial dashboards, budgets and tax strategies. In our conversation, Donya and I cover a lot of ground, including: Misconceptions agency owners have when valuing their business Donya’s spreadsheet for assessing your financial picture during retirement Understanding agency finance your agency’s normalized EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) Factors that severely impact your agency’s value in a negative way What you may need to change in your agency’s books Things on the financial statement that agency owners often ignore that they really need to pay attention to What financials agency owners should be looking at every week, month, and quarter Budgets: can modern, project-based agencies use them? Mistakes agencies make in regards to taxes and tax strategies to take advantage of How to know if your agency is structured as a corporation in the correct way Things to think about when planning the selling of your agency Factors [...]

Public Relations Strategies and Tactics for Your Agency with Don Beehler

The communications world has changed drastically in recent years and practicing effective public relations strategies and tactics are no exception. Gone are the days of only having to know one or two reporters or knowing all of the potential publications to pitch. Today, there are so many more channels and opportunities that agencies struggle with understanding how best to utilize PR for their agency and for their clients. My podcast guest, Don Beehler has been involved in all aspects of communications. He has worked in corporate communications, advertising, public relations, marketing and in journalism as a correspondent and as a member of an editorial staff. All of that has helped him to really see how PR can help agencies create awareness, draw prospects into the agency to generate sales opportunities, and improve client retention. Join Don and I as we dig deeper into the PR world and discover: The dramatic changes PR has seen over the years How agencies can use PR as a strategic tool to drive new business How to determine what stories to pitch Ways you can become discoverable so that reporters can find you The kind of news that is truly newsworthy for agencies Why you shouldn’t think about using PR with the expectation that people will write stories about your agency How agencies can get the right kind of attention How to incorporate PR into your business plan How to correctly use PR in relation to speaking engagements How to use Google Alerts to capitalize on PR opportunities The steps to take right away to boost your PR Don Beehler has worked with news media on the local to international levels and has won numerous professional awards throughout his career. [...]

Today’s Agency Employees Crisis and What to Do About It

New business is on the upswing, you’re experiencing shorter sales cycles, and your business is growing by leaps and bounds. All of that is great. But you’re still facing a crisis. An agency employee crisis. There just aren’t enough qualified people to fill the spots needed to service all that business. Or maybe you have just enough employees right now but you are seeing other agencies lose staff to corporate clients and media groups and are fearful that you might be next.    It’s time to take a breath and discover all the reasons that your agency employees want to stay with you and how you can attract more of the same. Your employees have lots of reasons they like agency work and you just might be surprised at the number one reason they offer for wanting to stay. Believe it or not, it’s not about the money.    Find out my take on the current agency employee situation as I detail out:   The agency employees shortage: why it’s happening right now What agency employees want most (and how to use this to attract and retain them) Things that will cause employees to leave The best benefits you can offer to attract and retain employees How you can compete with the corporate world for employees Why you need to be actively looking for employees, even if you don’t need them right now Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency over the last 20-years. And all through the year, he straddles the fence of working in his agency and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies in a variety of ways. He works [...]

Looking Ahead into the Future of Business for Agencies

As agency leaders, we’re as good as our last idea. So we’re always on the lookout for fresh thinking and emerging trends to take to our clients. But how do we do that in today’s overloaded information age where there is never enough time and so many other distractions? And how can we look into the future of business as it relates to the agency space? “Open your eyes, get out of your comfort zone, and learn about the world around you.” These are the words of wisdom from my podcast guest, Rohit Bhargava.   Rohit is a non-obvious trend curator and an expert in helping brands and leaders be more influential. He helps agencies re-think their role when it comes to what they're supposed to be doing for their customers. In his mind, it all comes down to understanding a customer's true business need, rather than what they think they’re asking for. It’s looking around, being curious and finding the non-obvious in the everyday.    Some highlights of our conversation include: Working as a solopreneur vs. working in an agency Rohit’s trend report that started as a blog post Habits for being a trend spotter Big trends for 2016 What lies ahead for the future of business for agencies VR: How Virtual Reality can become important to agencies Data overload: what will happen when all the data available to different parties eventually gets pooled together? Understanding your clients’ true needs and becoming their true partner Architecting an Innovation Day to open up your clients’ wallets How to teach trend-creating thinking to employees coming out of college Rohit Bhargava is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of five books on topics as wide ranging as [...]

Hey agency owner – have you defined your values, mission and vision?

You help your clients do it every day but have you defined your values, mission and vision? As you preach to clients, it’s vital to every business that they have a clear idea of who they are and what they’re all about. Usually the owner has some vague (or maybe very defined) vision for their organization but few have taken the time to distill it down or made the effort to weave it into the fabric of the company. Many people confuse mission and vision. Here’s how I define and distinguish between the three elements. Mission -- what you do best every day Vision – what the future is like because you do what you do best every day Values – guiding principles/beliefs In an environment like an agency – each of these is critical. If you’ve already done this work – revisit it to make sure it’s still on target and meets the following criteria: Are you mission and vision statements a single sentence? Are you values short enough that everyone on your team could memorize and recite them? Are all three components written in common, easy to understand language? Are they unique to you? Could any agency claim the exact same set? Are they all from the client’s/an outside perspective? Remember this is how you want others to see you. As you know, because you probably guide clients through this process, it’s deceivingly difficult. If you haven’t done this or you think the work you’ve done could use a refresh – do it right. Investing in defining your values, mission and vision is one of those important but not urgent quadrant activities that will change the future of your agency. Carve out some [...]