Industry Trends

Are agencies a dying breed?

I always find it fascinating when conferences bring together a panel of professionals and ask them to look into their proverbial crystal ball and tell us how the world will be different. A couple weeks ago, during AdvertisingWeek's conference, a panel that consisted of Jack Bamberger (SVP of Global Partnerships at Oath, Jeannine Falcone, the Managing Director of Digital Marketing for Accenture Interactive, Kelly Mooney, Co-lead of IBM iX Studios, Stephanie Anderson, CMO and Strategy Officer at AI Media Group, Andrew Bailey, Partner and CEO of The & Partnership and Tim Castree, Global CEO of WAVEMAKER) pretty much predicted that agencies will not exist. You can watch the entire panel discussion here. A takeaway quote that you might listen for -- "In 3-5 years, agencies have a 30% chance of  survival." Have no fear -- they're wrong. First note that they all work for companies that sell with the "if you don't want an typical agency" line.  They are positioned against agencies already.  So of course they don't want to suggest that agencies can or will flourish in the future. Which doesn't mean they are completely wrong. As I have said many times, agencies need to: Stop focusing on selling stuff and instead sell their smarts, counsel and insight Need to re-think their pricing strategies Need to teach their account people how to ask better questions/be a strategic thinker Need to invest in continued education for themselves (owners) and rising stars I do believe that agencies will have to continue to evolve (as we always have) to stay relevant.  We have to get back into the C-suite.  We have to understand that we can't exist if we only serve the CMO anymore.  Our job is [...]

The Top Agency Trends of 2017 (Part 2)

Working with 250+ agencies a year gives us a great perspective on the top agency trends that impact (or are going to impact) us all. With that in mind, I hope you were able to listen to podcast episode 85 where I covered the half of the trends that I expect will have the biggest influence on your agency in the next 2-12 months. This solocast will cover the second half of those top agency trends of 2017. This would be a good episode to share with your leadership team because it’s all about the realities we need to be prepared to face in the coming months. Our conversation will cover: Augmented reality and virtual reality: what you need to know about this technology that is coming fast Influencer marketing: connecting your client’s brand with their audience through social influencers who have built an audience around a specific topic Ratings & Reviews: How agencies can turn a profit by solving this problem for existing clients (and how to use it as a door-opener for prospects) Why agencies are developing relationships with more people inside companies than just CMOs Why you need to play nice with the other agencies that you share a client with If you’re not being offered exclusivity, do you need to offer it in return? Selling what you know and what you think instead of “stuff” ROI: why it’s not an optional conversation Why you need to be transparent on your fees Bragworthy benefits like a student loan repayment program Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at Agency Management Institute. For the past 21 years, he has also owned and operated his own agency. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an [...]

The Top Agency Trends of 2017 (Part 1)

Every year, we’re blessed to work with 250+ agencies and that gives us a chance to develop a serious micro and macro view of the business. While every agency is unique – there are certainly some trends that impact (or are going to impact) us all. Every year, I identify the top agency trends that I expect will have the biggest influence on our business and in this podcast, I walk you through the first half (9 of 19). I’ll pick up the back half in my solocast for June. Grab your notebook and see what your agency can do to get ahead of these trends to make the most of them: Why agency owners are confident again and why new business is easier to come by right now The trend where talent inside agencies has become a scarce resource What to do about having to hire under-skilled employees The challenge of providing clients with the right data Having an answer when clients ask agencies about diversity Opportunities for agencies with old school media Why you have to be great at marketing automation And a few more! Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at Agency Management Institute. For the past 21 years, he has also owned and operated his own agency. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an active agency owner and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies throughout the year, give him a unique perspective on running an agency today. AMI works with agency owners by: Leading agency owner peer groups Offering workshops for owners and their leadership teams Offering AE bootcamps Conducting individual agency owner coaching Doing on site consulting Offering online courses in agency new business and account service Because [...]

How to Develop Thought Leadership Content that Keeps You Top of Mind with John Hall

Thought leadership. Content creation. Owning a topic and being the authentic expert in that space. These elements are critical components of an agency’s business development plan today. As you have heard from me many times, it’s all about moving your prospects through the know-like-trust model so that when they are ready to buy, they already have faith in your ability to deliver. But it’s not just about doing that from an arm’s length through content.  It’s also about doing that the old-fashioned way – face to face. The agency business is really a relationship business, as we all know. So how do you start, nurture and grow your relationships today? That’s what I wanted to talk to Influence & C.’s co-founder and CEO John Hall about because he has the gift.  Fortunately, he outlined his strategies in his new book called “Top of Mind.” John and I discuss the tangible ways of getting networking in this digital and analog age. Listen in as we chat about: John’s new book "Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter To You" How John’s book fits into his thought leadership content strategy Why staying top of mind is a great strategy for developing trust Short-term to long-term memory: consistently engaging people so that they remember forever Why you need to make yourself approachable Why showing your failings and foibles does not diminish your thought leadership Why you must understand what is truly helpful for individuals Why you must help people without expecting anything in return How to tell people how you helped them without it sounding self-serving Why you shouldn’t be too aggressive and should build a relationship over time Why you [...]

Defining Category Design and Why it’s Important to Brand Positioning with Christopher Lochhead

Agencies are brilliant at helping their clients differentiate themselves from the pack.  And yet, this is the Achilles Heel for most agencies.  You look and sound just like everyone else on the block, in the pitch or online. It’s not easy to find the kernel of what makes you unique and the right fit for your clients.  And you can’t use the same trite language (full service, integrated, we love to partner with our clients, etc.) and sound different. Maybe it’s not about how do you differentiate yourself from everyone else in the pack.  Maybe it’s about creating a new category so you truly stand alone? That’s the premise of my podcast guest Christopher Lochhead. He’s a longtime CMO, entrepreneur and author who has had just enough of the right mindset, courage and faith to unlock the key to differentiation. His book, “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets” details the method to his madness -- what he calls “category design.” He explains it as “creating your own niche to become nouveau riche.” If you want to drive growth on both the agency and client side, follow along as Christopher and I go through the steps of adopting category design with: Chris’ career journey that took him from Silicon Valley CMO to coach to podcast host Chris’ book: “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets” What category design is and why every agency needs to get great at it Why “category” is as important as “product” and “company” How to position your agency in a category that you can dominate The two kinds of problems that need solving The three questions to ask to start creating your [...]

Interpreting the Results of the 2016 Agency Workforce Report with Susan Baier

Think you understand the Millennials in your agency? You might be surprised. Think you know what motivates your employees? You might be surprised. Think you know what your best employees want and need from you? You know the answer – they just might surprise you. Here’s the good news – we can give you a very healthy glimpse into the concerns, wants and needs of your team. This past summer, AMI partnered with my podcast guest Susan Baier and her team at Audience Audit to talk to almost 1,000 agency employees about their work. The result was the 2016 Agency Workforce Report. We set out to find the answers to the questions above as well as many others. A lot of what we think we know about our agency employees flies in the face of their truth. So we kept digging to discover what they value, what motivates them and what they want more of down the road. In this podcast, we walk you through the data and provide you with a snapshot of the results. If you want to get to know your employees and learn what you can do to motivate and keep them, this podcast should be illuminating. Come dig into the results with Susan and me:     Our 2016 Agency Workforce Report What made our 2016 research different from other research projects we’ve done in the past How we crunched our data The three types of agency employees that we found in our research: agency advocates, prosperity partners, and “Millennial Mindset” (and why the majority of Millennials don’t fall in the “Millennial Mindset” group) What your agency can do to have less “Millennial Mindset” employees than average Why the opportunity to [...]

How to Embrace Change as a Small Business Owner in Today’s World

The only constant in life is change, and man, does that apply to our world and agency life. The truth is – it’s not going to suddenly get easier, slower or less jarring.  If anything, it’s just going to get a little quicker. So buckle up. I have been in a unique position, because of my work with hundreds of agencies, to see these changes firsthand and want to share with you where I think our industry is headed. Our customers today aren’t just looking for someone to manage an ad campaign or make a media buy, they are looking for partners. Strategic partners who get business. While most of the “stuff” that we create can be commoditized, what makes us different and what can’t be commoditized is our ability to think strategically. The game has changed and agencies that are able to successfully partner with their customers beyond marketing and delve into the sales and customer service arenas are the ones that are succeeding. Learn how your agency can embrace change and succeed in these arenas by answering: Why the speed of change is the new normal and why you have to embrace that How what agencies sell has changed from the Mad Men days to today Why you need to tie marketing, sales, and customer service together to be a great agency today Why data analysis is more important than it ever has been Leads, sales, and retention: why you need to focus on these at a much higher level if you want to keep charging a premium price The importance of making real time decisions and adapting based on data Why we need to work with clients who may be resistant to [...]

Solving Business Challenges by Understanding the Rapidly-Changing Global Landscape with Greg Verdino

“We are used to thinking about change in an incremental fashion when in reality, change is happening at an exponential rate.” So says my podcast guest Greg Verdino and he should know. He’s been at the forefront of most of the changes in our industry and is one of the best at solving business challenges that arise from an ever-changing global landscape. From the beginnings of social media (when he was one of only 23 bloggers out there) to today’s blur between the physical and digital, Greg knows about the changes that are happening and more important, what is coming next.   Greg and his wife Amanda (Verdino & Co.) are a small niche agency that focuses solely on content. They are constantly evolving and staying a step ahead of their clients and their client’s needs so that they can continue to be of value to their clients. We had a great conversation on how agencies can see the forest for the trees and discover: What has changed since the beginning days of when agencies began to do social Why content needs to expand past “content marketing” and must be infused into every single interaction inside and outside your organization How to help clients understand the value of content Solving the business challenges that arise from a changing landscape The importance of analytics and content metrics that Greg uses with clients Why Greg and his wife decided to go it on their own instead of taking positions inside other agencies How Greg differentiates his agency from other agencies How Greg has been able to recognize trends that matter and ignore the ones that fade Tips and tricks for getting everything done that you want as [...]

How to Be a Great Podcast Guest & the Value of Being on a Podcast with Tom Schwab

Podcasting has been around for a while but it is really becoming very mainstream. It’s a wonderfully effective way to connect with your audience on a personal level in a format that has gotten very easy to access and consume. There’s nothing wrong with blogging or creating video content but podcasts are so easy – people can learn from them while they commute to work, walk on a treadmill or listen while they multitask at home. If you aren’t ready to start your own podcast, the next best thing is learning how to be a great podcast guest on someone else’s show. My guest, Tom Schwab helps business leaders, authors and other professionals get invited to appear on podcasts that align with their business goals. Tom believes that every business leader can be coached so they’re a rock star guest. As he says, “what's ordinary to you is amazing to others.” Tom and I dig into the nuts and bolts of podcasting with: Why podcasting is so relevant today How to be a great podcast guest on someone else’s show The benefit of being a podcast guest How Tom’s clients are able to sell being on podcasts to their own clients Benefits of podcasting over other forms of content Why podcast traffic converts higher than blogs Message, market, and machine: what you need to have a successful podcast interview What you (or your clients) need to be a great podcast guest Why you need to bring a giveaway when you are a guest on a podcast What not to do when you are a guest on a podcast Is it appropriate to suggest questions to your podcast host? How Tom helps agencies look good The [...]

Positioning Your Agency as a Thought Leader Using Niche Blog Posts with Michael Gass

“We’re a full service integrated marketing agency. We partner with our clients.”   Sound familiar? Is this how you describe and position your agency? Hopefully not if you want to attract the best clients for your agency. Generalist agencies don’t fare as well as specialists. AMI research shows that CMOs want specialists. They want their agency to understand the unique challenges of their industry so they can understand their specific problems and can help them get to where they want to go. They want an agency with a laser focus on their industry and their unique challenges.      My podcast guest Michael Gass has perfected that laser focus on positioning your agency. Michael develops marketing strategies designed specifically for agency new business. Part of that laser focus includes niche blogging. This is just one of the strategies that has been key in driving new business to the agencies that he has worked with. If you think you know niche blogging, think again. Michael and I drill down to the specifics on this and other strategies by:   Generating new business through niche blogs Positioning your agency as a thought leader Making these niche blogs truly niche (hint: “healthcare” is not a niche) Why these blogs need to be written by one or two visible authors The pace these blogs have to be written, at least initially Why you should start out with just one niche blog Why a person should be the face of only one blog How to keep this process running smoothly and consistently Why agencies have to add consulting as a service line The differences agency websites and niche blogs have to have The time commitment this kind of program requires The [...]