Episode 152: Entrepreneurial You: Building Multiple Income Streams with Dorie Clark

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” That’s the standard advice of any investment advisor. But that investment can only happen once we’ve actually made the money. But maybe the concept of diversification is equally applicable to the first stage – making the income in the first place. Having multiple sources of income builds wealth more quickly and mitigates risks inherent in having just a single source. The logic of that seems simple enough.  But the execution – that’s a whole different animal. My podcast guest Dorie Clark has a very interesting perspective on this topic and I was excited to pick her brain for all of us. Her most recent book, Entrepreneurial You, is a blueprint for developing multiple income streams without losing your sanity. Building these income streams involves tough decision-making but it doesn’t have to mean you take huge risks along the way. Dorie suggests a more measured approach and walks us through some of the methods we can explore as we expand our ability to accumulate wealth. Dorie Clark is a marketing strategy consultant, professional speaker, and frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review. She is also the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out, which was named the #1 Leadership Book of 2015 by Inc. magazine and one of the Top 10 Business Books of the Year by Forbes.  The New York Times described Clark as an “expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives.” Clark consults and speaks for a diverse range of clients, including Google, the World Bank, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Yale University.     What you’ll learn about in this episode: Creating diverse income streams without jumping into big, new, risky ventures Guiding people through the sales […]

Episode 151: Mastering the Value Conversation with Blair Enns

In any trade, mastering the work is just the first of many hurdles. But one of the most daunting for most agency owners is pricing. What is the work worth? Who is my competition, and what if they offer services for less? What is the true value of the work we’re doing and what’s the ROI for our client? There will always be someone (agency or freelancer) who is willing to do the same work for less. But how does that influence our pricing strategy and should it? This episode is all about the value conversation that leads to identifying a price based on the value you are offering. We’re going to dive into both the theories and principles and how to get over the discomfort of putting these pricing principles into practice. Blair is an expert in sales, particularly in the creative services industry. He started his career working for a number of Canadian ad agencies and design firms. In 2000, he struck out on his own with a consulting practice named Win Without Pitching. In our conversation, Blair will walk us through a framework developed over decades of learning, trying, failing and perfecting value-based selling for creatives. Blair is the author of Win Without Pitching Manifesto. He has just written a brand-new book called Pricing Creativity. I have spent some time with it, and the cool thing is, it’s not really a book – or more precisely, it’s not only a book. It’s more of a training manual – a three-ring binder full of all kinds of tips, tricks, and the psychology of pricing strategy. This is a meaty episode and I promise – it’s going to give you plenty to think about. […]

Episode 150: How to attract and retain quality talent with Drew McLellan

Before we dive into today’s topic — I first want to say thank you for your listenership and loyalty! We are downloaded in over 85 countries and I’m grateful for every listener. This solocast is Episode 150 of Build a Better Agency and I’m grateful for your time and the conversations we’ve had over the last three years. Way back in Episode 35 (in early 2016), we talked about the employee shortage and the challenge the shortage was creating for agencies and agency owners. If anything – things have gotten tougher. As you know, I see the financials for about 120 AMI agencies a year. I review their P&Ls, balance sheets, ratios, and some other information. And I will tell you that even though agencies may have had a good year financially in 2017 — they didn’t actually get to keep a lot of the money they earned. And the reason why they didn’t is because their employees are taking more and more of that money. This is happening because of scarcity. The truth of it is…scarcity wins. And right now, your employees are in control. There are fewer good agency employees than there are agency needs and jobs. And I don’t think this is going to change any time soon. I thought it might be helpful if I shared how some agencies are addressing this challenge. I will walk you through some creative benefits employees consider to be brag-worthy, as well as the benefits that scored at the top of our research with over 1,000 agency employees. The truth is, 401k programs and insurance coverage no longer differentiate you from your competitors — they are table stakes. Here’s the reality — we have to […]

Episode 149: Embracing the Storytelling Edge with Joe Lazauskas

In our industry, storytelling is one of those words that is so overused, it can lose its meaning pretty quickly. Great stories stick with us. My guest, the co-author of The Storytelling Edge, Joe Lazauskas, understands that good storytelling gives you an edge. In a world where content can be all-but-meaningless pablum, it can also tell a story that moves a customer and makes a connection with them. As a writer and storyteller myself, I always soak up any time I can spend with someone who’s as passionate about this subject as I am. Joe gets into the brain science of why stories are so powerful – they are a way to understand each other and ourselves better. He takes that knowledge and helps brands tell better stories. For agencies and our clients, stories are how we build trusted connections with customers. In an era where there is pressure to churn out content, Joe helps us take a step back and understand why story is so important, and the key ingredients and tactics for telling good stories. Joe Lazauskas is an owner and the director of content strategy at Contently. If you’re not familiar with Contently, it is a content strategy practice. It offers a dashboard, but they also help big-brand clients create stories and content for those brands. Joe was also one of the founding editors of the New York Egotist. After that, he became a tech and marketing journalist for FastCompany, Digit Day, and Forbes, among others. He joined Contently in the early days of their formation and in the beginning, he served as editor in chief.     What you’ll learn about in this episode: How the brain engages with story, and […]

Episode 148: Purpose-Filled Recruitment and Retention with Steve Lowisz

If there is a common pain point for agency owners today — it’s recruiting and retaining talent. It’s a conversation I am having every day and it’s more difficult than it’s been in quite a while. Unfortunately, I don’t see that trend reversing any time soon. Which means we’d all better improve our ability to keep the good ones that we either have or can attract. It’s starts with hiring the right person for the right reasons. What are the most effective questions to ask during the interview process? What do you need to know about the candidate? What do they need to know about you, your agency and the culture there? For my podcast guest Steve Lowisz, it all comes down to purpose. Are you clear on the purpose of the position your hiring for? Are deliverables clearly spelled out in the job description you are posting? It’s critical to discover if the candidate’s purpose actually aligns with your agency’s purpose, and if they do – you’d better have a plan for nurturing that shared passion. Steve Lowisz is an expert on talent acquisition, talent assessment, personal development, diversity & inclusion, and business performance. He has more than two decades of research and practical business experience allowing him to serve hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals. As CEO of the Qualigence Group of Companies that he founded in 1999, Steve regularly contributes to Industry events and publications and has been featured in Fortune Magazine, CNN Money, The Detroit Free Press and on Bloomberg Radio.     What you’ll learn about in this episode: Why job descriptions often don’t provide the right information to get the right candidate for the job How to look […]

Episode 147: Serve Your Clients: Selling Without Selling with Michelle Weinstein

Business development does not just happen. For most of us as agency owners, sales is one of those things we wish we didn’t have to do. In this episode of Build A Better Agency, we’re going to really dive into sales. I think the reluctance comes down to a fear of rejection. Because of those fears and insecurities, we don’t prioritize biz dev. We don’t put it on the calendar. We don’t make it a must do. I think the biggest change we can make, and this is my challenge to you, is to just carve out time to connect with your ideal clients. Maybe it’s one morning a week. But as my guest says, if it’s not on the calendar, you’re not going to do it. My guest for episode #147 is Michelle Weinstein. Michelle has done it all. She’s been on Shark Tank. She has raised over a million dollars for her last company, and she now teaches entrepreneurs how to sell. At the end of the day, Michelle is a sales strategist. She teaches mission-driven entrepreneurs how to sell without being sleazy. I think we make sales harder than it needs to be. That’s why I wanted to bring Michelle on to have this conversation. She generously shared some incredible ideas and strategies that you can implement right now. What if you could make a list of your ideal top-tier clients and actually have the confidence and the plan to demonstrate to them that they’re be losing out by not working with you. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of our discussion. This is a must hear episode if you are looking to enjoy biz dev and ultimately the fruits of that […]

Episode 146: Developing a digital-first DNA with Chris Aarons

Why do some agencies seem to “get” digital transformation and others struggle to cross that hurdle? Even more puzzling – among the ones who do get it – why are so many of them struggling to make money at it? These are some of the daunting questions I’m exploring in this episode with my guest Chris Aarons. We all understand that digital transformation is happening. Few understand this as well as he does. What does it mean for an agency to have digital-first DNA? Chris Aarons’ book Digital Helix explores this idea and I asked him about it when we spoke. Part of this concept is understanding that everything is connected, and a digital asset is never “done” or complete. When we approach our work with that understanding, what we do for and with clients becomes less about putting out emergency fires or checking off the boxes on the latest trend. It becomes about a consistent and constant state of evolution. Chris believes the larger value we can all offer clients is helping them recognize and embrace that reality and then together, looking out over the horizon and planning for tomorrow’s opportunities rather than focusing on today’s fires. That’s how we add incredible value and earn our seat at the client’s table. In this episode we talk about how to make that vision a reality for your agency.     What you’ll learn about in this episode: The importance of an exploration mindset in moving you and your clients forward What it means to operate with a digital-first DNA as an agency How to encourage digital-first DNA thinking in your clients How to develop ongoing conversations with clients rather than operating from a one-off proposal […]

Episode 145: Top Agency Trends of 2018 (Part 2) with Drew McLellan

When you’re busy running an agency, it can be hard to take a step back to see broader trends. What is currently happening and what is on the horizon regarding client relationships? What tactics and deliverables are hot and making agencies money? This is the second part of a discussion I started last month about the we’re tracking at AMI. One of the best aspects of our work with agency owners from all over the world is that it affords me perspective. In episode 140, Top 2018 Agency Trends Part 1, I talked about trends that were related to money and the changing structures of our teams. And in this episode, I’m going to talk about the trends that I did not have a chance to get to in that episode.     What you’ll learn about in this episode: How retail-facing companies are transitioning those skill sets into B2B space Why big consumer brands are decreasing their marketing spend and what it might mean down the road for small to mid-sized agencies The continuing rise of video and how to avoid the urge to over-produce video content Why clients are coming back to integrated agencies after splitting their marketing dollars among smaller agencies focused on narrow tasks What tactics and deliverables are earning agencies solid revenue in 2018 The rise of influencer marketing The fascinating ways in which voice is changing search and how to stay on top of the trend The love/hate relationship we all have with chatbots and what that might mean for their future Drew McLellan is the CEO at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency since 1995 and is still actively running the agency […]

Episode 144: Learning to speak creativity with Larry Robertson

I’ve always described our work as being called upon to be creative on demand. Whether an agency employee sits in the creative department, codes apps, builds strategy or works on new business – we are all tasked with being fresh thinkers. Our clients hire us to ask the right questions. We feel the pressure to provide answers or at the very least, to know the next right question.  It’s incredibly satisfying when a prospect or client says, “I’ve never been asked that before.” My podcast guest Larry Robertson, encourages his clients – and us – to sit with questions – to not look for quick and easy answers. But to recognize that the real insight rarely comes from the first layer of questions. The paradox is that in times of frenetic change, having the right answers are more important than having the quick answers. Organizationally speaking, it’s a matter of life and death. Larry Robertson is an innovation and strategy advisor. He is the author of two award-winning books: A Deliberate Pause: Entrepreneurship and its Moment in Human Progress, and The Language of Man: Learning to Speak Creativity, honored with a combined 16 awards. During our conversation, Larry talked about the research he did as he was prepping to write “The Language of Man.” He interviewed recipients of the McArthur “Genius” award to gather their collective wisdom on creativity and staying power in business and life. Along with being an author, he’s also a columnist for Inc. Magazine and The Creativity Post, and a regular contributor to Fast Company. He also has been featured guest on or in MSNBC, the Chicago Tribune, AdAge, SmartBrief, and in numerous podcasts. He is a Graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a former […]

Episode 143: Customer Experience: the customer is just the beginning with Stan Phelps

We live in the ratings and review economy. While our clients (and I suspect we are guilt of this too inside our agencies) are busy chasing after the new customer, the truth is – if we don’t create an amazing experience for our existing clients – we’re sunk. It’s tough to attract new business when your current customers are giving you mediocre reviews or rushing to social media to share your customer service blunder with their connections. Never forget that 70% of your net new revenue should come from existing clients. Odds are your clients are in the same boat. In today’s world of commoditization, the experience we create is often our point of difference. And let’s face it – you’re probably not on the front lines with your agency’s clients. Your team is. That’s why I was eager to speak with my guest Stan Phelps – an expert in customer experience and employee engagement. Among the many things on his plate, Stan runs purplegoldfish.com where he digs deep into these topics in his best-selling book series and on stages across the globe. I wanted to ask Stan about the links between customer experience, embracing weirdness, employee engagement, and above all – purpose in an organization – how they are all tied to one another; how they are often the difference between surviving (or not) and thriving as a company. Stan Phelps is an IBM Futurist, TEDx Speaker, and Forbes Contributor. He has spoken at over 250 events on every inhabited continent, in over a dozen countries for Fortune 100 brands such as IBM, Target, ESPN, UPS, GlaxoSmithKline, and Citi. Prior to focusing on writing and speaking, Stan held leadership positions at IMG, Adidas, and […]