Best books for marketers (client and agency side)

I was recently asked by CEO Library to share my thoughts about reading, specific books and how being a reader has changed the trajectory of my career.  Which, no doubt it has.  I've always loved to read and can't imagine not doing it consistently. How about you?  Are you a reader? Has how you consume books changed? (My habits sure have!) Here's a peek at what I was asked and my answers:  1. What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible. Favorite business book — Radical Leap by Steve Farber Favorite non-business book that I would argue can teach you a ton about business leadership — The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling 2. Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it? I’ve always been a voracious reader.  I read to learn.  I read to relax.  I read to cleanse my palette so I can be creative.  I read to find perspective. I read to entertain myself.  I loved reading to my daughter when she was little and as she got older -- reading the same book together. So books have helped me do everything from learn about my mom’s dementia, to keep current with trends that impact my clients, to cope with loss, to raise a daughter to find some balance in my life and by helping me fall in love with characters, places and ideas. 3. What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path. I would argue that my favorite books (which I re-read every year or so) in question #1 have had the biggest [...]

By |July 7th, 2018|

Your agency owner wants you to be successful

I got an email from an AE who had attended one of my workshops.  She was frustrated because her client called her boss (the agency owner) directly about an issue.  She felt like the owner undermined her role with the client by taking the call and not including the AE in either the conversation or the solution. Here’s what I said: This is a great example of something you should talk to your boss about.  Explain to him that you want to be your clients’ go to resource and ask him for his advice on how to make that happen.  Also — ask him to help you establish your credibility with the clients by either suggesting they speak to you or at least saying “let me dial <AE’s name> in on this call so we’re all on the same page” or something like that.  But it sounds like you have some work to do, in terms of really earning your client’s trust and confidence. It takes time — you don’t get it automatically and it’s easy to lose.  Here are some ways you can accelerate the process: Over-communicate proactively (have a regular rhythm of updates etc. so they can count on them) Anticipate future issues, challenges and opportunities and talk to the client about them (ideally on a weekly or bi-weekly call) in a heads up fashion rather than a “this is screaming down on us” thing Spend more time with the client/on site if you can.  Nothing is better than face time Get smarter about the industry and share that knowledge Be über responsive.  Their emergency is your emergency.  They want to feel like your only client, even though it’s not your reality Get [...]

By |November 27th, 2017|

The Dos and Don’ts of Agency New Business with Lisa Colantuono

"It all begins and ends on chemistry. Everything else in between is absolutely vital, there's no doubt about it, but it begins and ends on chemistry.” My podcast guest, Lisa Colantuono isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know. Chemistry is key to winning any new business opportunity. But how do you influence that chemistry? And how do you come out on the winning side?  Lisa and her team at AAR Partners have figured out a way to research and land those right fit clients so you can count on more new business with every search. Their prospecting tool will put a prospective sweet spot client on your doorstep every time.   Let Lisa and I walk you through what you need to know when it comes to figuring out your agency’s chemistry with: The simple mistakes agencies make in the new business search process Why complacency is a big problem for agencies The importance of continuing to court your current clients Why chemistry is so vital in an agency-client relationship The dos and don’ts of agency new business Prospecting smarter with Lisa’s Four T’s Building relationships by teaching Why you need to know what your agency is -- and isn’t -- good at What to do when executives change (both on client and agency sides) Finding project work for your agency (and growing that into a larger relationship) The danger of coming off as desperate to leads Why you need at least one person whose job is new business The importance of an integrated new business plan Not only does Lisa believe in enduring partnerships that matter, but she actively participates in creating them. Having consulted on and managed agency reviews including Lee Jeans, [...]

By |July 20th, 2017|

Are Stale Employees Dragging Your Business Down?

Almost every business owner has dealt with stale employees who refuse to change with the times. These employees have decided that they've learned everything they need to, and now coast by on their tenure without contributing their share to the success of the company. Unfortunately for you, the boss, these employees probably used to be exceptional in their positions. You probably have a great relationship, and they're likely your most highly paid employees. But if these members of your team don't change, you may have to choose between maintaining longstanding relationships or ensuring the success of your business. Can Stale Employees Be Saved? As an agency consultant, I have years of experience coaching business owners on handling these situations. While some stale employees can be saved, old habits are difficult to change. I had a client on the East Coast who owns an agency of about 25 employees. The owner was loyal to an account representative who had been with him for 15 years. Unfortunately, this employee had chosen not to embrace the digital revolution in his industry, and his skills had become irrelevant over the years. The owner felt so attached that he didn't realize what a burden the stale employee had become on his other employees until his star account executive quit, citing his frustration over covering for the stale employee as his reason for leaving. As a result, this agency's biggest client also left, and the owner had to lay off some of his workforce. That finally got his attention. Had he taken action earlier, people would have kept their jobs. He sat down with this employee and gave him a generous amount of time to change and specific progress goals to [...]

By |July 7th, 2017|

Hey agency owner — are you protecting your partnership?

Are you protecting your partnership? No one buys homeowners insurance because they actually expect to have a fire at their house.  But they know if they want until there’s a fire, it’s too late.  So, on the very first day they buy their house — they buy the insurance as well, hoping they never have to use it. For some reason, agency owners don’t always apply this same logic to their business.  If you have any sort of partner (minority, silent, 50/50, etc.) you need to have insurance in case that partnership goes south.  Hopefully it will never happen but an illness, a divorce, a midlife crisis or a myriad of other things could put your business in harm’s way.  Without the proper partnership documents that outline how you handle any threat to the agency — you can be left holding the bag. Your partnership agreement should cover these aspects of partnership: Decision making: As a business owner, you made many decisions every day. What are the rules around that? How will you and your partner make decisions, especially in those cases when it's an important topic and you don’t agree? Be sure to specifically deal with: Contracts: Does each partner have the authority to sign contracts on behalf of the business? If so, those contracts will bind all partners. Debt: Is the business going to have a credit card, credit line, a loan?  Keep in mind here that, depending on the business structure that you choose, each partner may be personally liable for this. Spending: Does a partner have the ability to make purchases without consulting the other partners?  Generally, there is a limit that is set in the agreement above which point the [...]

By |May 8th, 2017|

How to Blend Content and SEO to Drive Business Growth with John Jantsch

“Your goal is to create the most useful, relevant content, and then optimize it in such a way that a search engine decided to show that to somebody who has that intent.” In today’s cluttered market that’s easier said than done, for even the most savvy agencies. Many of you may know my podcast guest John Jantsch as the “Duct Tape Marketing guy” but our conversation was very content and SEO focused this time around. John’s latest book, “SEO for Growth” goes a long way towards helping readers (agencies or business owners) understand the changes in SEO as well as how to implement all of those changes in your agency.   In our conversation, John and I explore some of the key concepts in his book like: The big changes SEO has undergone recently Why you need to re-engineer a client’s editorial approach when you're assisting them with an existing website Some of John’s favorite web/SEO tools Why content and SEO can’t be thought of as two different things Big mistakes people make with SEO How to charge for SEO and demonstrate ROI How John uses an editorial calendar to plan and write all of his content Why you need content built for every stage of the customer journey Why SEO is all about consistency Why backlinks are still important in 2017 and how to do them right without getting penalized Resources that John recommends to grow your digital know-how John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of “Duct Tape Marketing,” “Duct Tape Selling,” “The Commitment Engine,” and “The Referral Engine.” He is also the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. His latest book, “SEO for Growth - The Ultimate Guide [...]

By |March 31st, 2017|

Hey agency owner — measure what matters

Want more money in your pocket -- measure what matters. Many agency owners want their agency to be more stable, more profitable and more predictable.  The truth is -- you can have all of that but it doesn't happen by accident.  You've heard the expression "if you want it to matter, measure it" and that's absolutely true. Here are some metrics you should consider tracking on a consistent basis as you grow your agency. Weekly: Timesheets completed (all time, billable and non-billable): Your goal should be 95% or better.  This means yours too, agency owner. Monthly: Gross billings: No specific metric but measure it against your annual goals. AGI: No specific metric but measure it against your annual goals. AGI ratios: Your AGI should be spent in this approximate ratio 55-60% People (all expenses tied to your staff. Salaries, benefits, payroll taxes etc.) 20-25% Overhead (Day to day operating expenses like rent, travel, professional fees, etc.) 20% Profit (EBITA) Profitability by client (It’s reasonable to shoot for a 10% minimum) AGI/FTE (your goal is $150K in AGI for every FTE) Write up/offs (are you adding profit to jobs or writing off time. Track both) Billable % (Overall staff billability should be 75% or higher) Utilization – what you actually billed (Overall staff utilization should be 60% or higher) Quarterly: Employee Satisfaction (On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend working at the agency to a friend?) New revenue ratios (70% of new revenue should come from current clients) New clients/sales: No specific metric but measure it against your annual goals. Average spend per client (you should set a minimum acceptable quarterly spend) Annually: Client retention (Goal should be 80% or higher) Employee [...]

By |March 12th, 2017|