When you work in digital marketing, perusing (and gleaning inspiration from) social platforms comes with the territory. But when even a tech columnist for the New York Times admits he needs a break from his phone — and from social media in general — participating online can suddenly feel like a draining experience. Some marketers combat digital fatigue by only knowing enough intellectually to get by. But today, you have to be a proper digital consumer to market online. In this article that I contributed to adotas.com, I discuss the necessity for digital marketers to also be digital consumers, and substantiate my viewpoint with evidence that’s hard to ignore. Tell me, are you a digital consumer? Would love to hear your ideas on the concept and where you are in your technological knowledge.
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.
When I meet struggling creative agency owners, one of the first questions I ask is: what kind of agency do you want to run? Their answers typically involve the deliverables their agencies produce, or who their agencies serve, but that’s not what I’m asking. No, I’m really asking whether their agencies are artisanal bakeries or Wonder Bread factories. Both artisanal and Wonder Bread agencies have their ups and downs. Before you decide which agency model is the best fit for you, consider the merits of each. The key is understanding what you, as an agency owner and entrepreneur, need and want your creative agency to be—and making sure that’s the type of shop you’re building. In this article I wrote, originally published for SpinSucks.com, I discuss the differences between both “bakeries” and help you distinguish who you are and who you want to be. What type of agency do you have? What type do you want? I'd love to have that conversation with you.
It’s annoying and expensive when clients pull the plug on a project before you can recoup all of your upfront investment. And yet it happens all the time. So much of our work requires a huge investment on our part on the front end and when a client stalls or does a 360 and cancels the work — we often get left holding the bag. I wrote a blog post about this challenge and offered some language you can include in your contracts and/or scope of work documents that will help protect you from losing money in this situation. 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.
Production managers, also known as traffic managers, used to be everywhere in the agency world. They were responsible for plugging the gaps between departments and ensuring that creators, managers and clients all knew what to expect and when to expect it. Their timelines and budgets kept agencies running smoothly for years. And then computers replaced them. Now that speed is of the essence, agencies need more than creatives and managers to keep their businesses afloat. It’s time to bring back the production manager to do what technology alone cannot. In this piece that I contributed to Forbes.com on March 11th, 2019, I elaborate on the need for the return of the production manager and discuss the value that this intricate position provides to an agency’s team. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the piece, and if you’re inclined, give me your thoughts on whether or not the modern day agency can benefit from reinstating this position.
In my mind, as you read that sentence, you were thinking “Are you kidding? I just paid THIS year’s taxes. Why are we talking about 2019 taxes already?” Which of course is my point. If you’d like to pay less tax than you did this past year, you can’t wait to until late December to put some strategies in place. I find that most agency owners have very conservative tax preparers. They’re much more concerned about making it easy for them than they are in actually giving you good advice about how to structure your business in the most tax advantageous way. I had a CPA like that and paid through the nose for years. Fortunately, I realized the mistake I was making about a decade ago and have cut my tax liability to a fraction of what I used to pay. There’s no reason why you can’t do that too. We will talk tax strategies in our owner workshop this fall (October) if that’s of interest. Whether you join us or not — it’s time to evaluate your tax prep pro. If he/she isn’t actively meeting with you every quarter to review your financials and look for ways for you to protect yourself from unnecessary taxes, it’s time to go shopping. We all have to pay taxes but it shouldn’t add up to more than we need to pay.
You and your team are good at what you do. You’re smart, you work hard, and you’ve excelled in your professional skill area. But you’re not salespeople. Since money doesn’t grow on trees, and there’s usually a correlation between effort and earnings, something needs to keep the lights on at your agency. Conversations Are The Key It’s as simple as having regular conversations with the right people. “The key to selling is conversations.” Directed, purposeful, simple conversations. If you start with the assumption that you provide a service that has value, then you change your mindset from sales to providing solutions to your customer. Chances are you’re passionate about how your agency can help your customer, so this mindset transition from "sales" to "assistance" is easy. You’ll discover, through a friendly conversation with a prospective customer, that you can identify what their issues are and how your agency can solve them. You then fine tune your solution, and voila! Now you not only have a new customer, but you’re a bona fide salesperson too. Easy, right? Sales calls are simple conversations with prospects who may or may not become clients. If you relax, your demeanor will alter; your breathing will slow, and you’ll find yourself talking with an interesting person. When you LISTEN (yes, all in caps) it is amazing what you’ll learn. Put the two together, with a little direction and a purpose, and you’ll find that your ordinary conversations will become extraordinary sales opportunities. Scheduling time to talk with prospects is critical The trick is to find the right people to have these conversations with on a regular basis. Finding prospective clients is the part of the sales job that so many people [...]
In December 2018, Wired published a shocking account of Elon Musk’s infamous firing sprees during Tesla’s Model 3 production struggles. According to the article, Musk’s frustration with low productivity and failure to meet standards led to the firing of some 700 employees -- many of whom never knew why they got the boot. Tesla hit several of its lofty goals last year, but with a workforce motivated by fear, will the company’s success eventually crumble under the stress of the employees creating it? Musk’s behavior is the polar opposite of how most managers handle unproductive employees. In many cases, managers allow bad behavior to continue for too long before stepping in to do damage control. In an article I wrote that was recently published on Entrepreneur.com, I dive into the difficult conversation employers need to embrace to assure that their agency maintains the level of productivity and professionalism they need. I'd love for you to check out my insight and give me feedback on how you handle difficult conversations with your agency employees.
It's the end of the 1st quarter — are you happy with where your agency is standing? It’s so easy to get caught up in the flurry of clients’ needs, demands of the day and the all mighty To Do list. All the while, you’re treading water and your agency is much like it was a year ago or even longer. Your agency can’t change until you do. If you want to build something different, it starts with you. I promise you, if you re-think how and where you spend your time, you can build the agency that lives in your business plan, your heart and in the scenario you painted in your agency retreat. Or you can keep doing what you’ve always done and expect different results. I did a solocast on how agency owners should spend their time. Take a listen and see if you have some adjustments to make.
Most agency owners don’t have backgrounds in finance. Agency owners who shy away from responsible financial management typically run into unnecessary challenges come tax season (if they even make it that long). By following a few simple tips, agency owners can master administrative tasks that come with running a company, especially in today’s changing tax climate. If you're in need of solid information to navigate the rocky road of agency management and keep more of your own money, Forbes.com recently asked me to provide a resource to assist their readers with tax law comprehension. I’d love for you to check it out and let me know if these explanations resonate with you and your agency.