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.
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.
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.
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 [...]
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 welcoming fear and feedback, you can become a more vulnerable and gracious leader. Here are a few great ways to embrace vulnerability. In this piece I recently contributed to Real-Leaders.com I discuss how leaders can earn their stripes by embracing vulnerability.
When it comes to succession planning, many agency owners think about the eventual closing or sale of their agency. Truth be told, most of you are not really prepping for that day as early or in as detailed a way as you should. You greatly reduce your options when you don’t have a long-range succession plan in place. But sometimes, there is no long-range scenario. Most agency owners have no plan in place for a sudden change — the proverbial hit by the bus scenario. I know it’s not pleasant to think about, but you owe it to your family, your employees, and your clients to have a plan in place. If something unexpected happens to you — your family and team are not going to be in a mental or emotional place to make good decisions. They will be rightfully dealing with the loss. Do not add to their burden by leaving things up in the air. I recorded a video on this topic (I am adding new videos every week on LinkedIn — are we connected there?) that I want to make sure you watch. I know the topic is morbid — but you owe it to those you love, work with, and work for to have a contingency plan in place. I know you get a lot of information coming to you — but please don’t ignore this topic just because you don’t want to think about it. This is far too big a burden to pass onto those you love. Working out the details is going to take you the better part of a year, so set a goal of having this handled by the end of 2021. Do it for [...]
No one is excited to have a difficult conversation with a key team member. But you choosing to avoid that conversation (I initially wrote your inability to have that conversation but we know it’s not really inability) because it’s uncomfortable can cost your agency so much. In today’s super snug employee recruitment/retention environment — you think you’re tiptoeing around that challenging situation or employee, but the truth is, you’re afraid. Giving in to that fear can cost you some of your best employees, your reputation as an honest (remember those values you preach or have hanging in the agency’s conference room) leader and clients. Leaders who fail to address bad behavior tacitly endorse such behavior to other workers. If one person gets away with late starts or low-key insubordination, your team will emulate the behavior (or think less of the manager who allows it). This is a skill that every agency owner needs to embrace and improve. Entrepreneur Magazine asked me to write about the risks of not being good at the difficult conversations and I did a solocast on the topic with what I hope are some helpful tips. If this is an area of growth for you, please check out the article and the solocast. But beyond that — commit to making this a focus for you in the coming months. This should also be a high priority skill for anyone in your shop who manages other employees. You all have to get better at this. The risks are too great to ignore the consequences of letting this slide. This was originally published in the weekly AMI newsletter. To subscribe, click here.
I’m guessing when you read that headline, you snorted, rolled your eyes, or made a “duh” expression. I know you converse with your employees but do you actually have meaningful conversations? Here’s what I observe in most agencies. You greet employees as you see them during the day You have “as you run by them in the hallway” conversations which are 50% social and 50% functional in which you drop little bombs (updates, facts, commentary) on work in progress You have info passing email conversations But most of you are not setting aside time to actually dig in. Here’s what can and should happen on a regular basis: You’re teaching as you explain decisions and reactions to client requests, changes, strategies You’re learning where they’d like to invest their time in terms of learning something new and adding more value You’re giving them an opportunity to give you a heads up on potential client and team issues You’re coaching them through new challenges they’re facing You’re celebrating their growth, their wins, and their best attempts All of this can be accomplished in a 20 minute one-on-one meeting with your direct reports. Every employee should have one at least twice a month, if not more often. This is a meeting that the employee owns. There are huge benefits to you, the owner or leader of the agency as well. Fewer interruptions throughout the week (they’ll learn to save it for their one-on-one) Employees that are fired up to keep learning and understand that it’s part of their job An early warning when trouble is brewing Better employee retention (they want more of your time and attention) A much more accurate sense of what’s going on in [...]
It’s a tricky balance: considering your budget and exploring the benefits of “luxuries” like research. But what if you could benefit from the insights research provides without breaking the bank? In this piece I recently contributed to Business2Community.com, I discuss how to do your own research for your agency because if you want to be effective, research needs to be an ongoing part of your marketing efforts.