Episode 155

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It’s a bit of a milestone episode here, episode 155. It seems like an odd number to celebrate, but it means this podcast has been going strong for three years now! (52 weeks = 156 episodes) So thanks for listening, whether you’ve been around since the beginning, or this is your first time here!

As I speak with agency owners and decision-makers every day about their agencies and their business development efforts (or lack thereof!), we talk about the value of niching their agency. It’s the old brain surgeon versus general practitioner and the relative value proposition of each.

Your niches (note the plural) can be industry-specific, a certain methodology or in some limited cases – a specialty (PPC, etc.). But what do you do when you’ve narrowed down the niches you want to serve?

That’s what this solocast is all about. How do you actually walk out your talk and live/sell and profit from your niches?


What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why establishing niches for your agency is so important
  • How many niches should an agency have and why?
  • How do you promote your agency’s special sauce/niches and expertise
  • How sweet spot clients intersect with your niches
  • The business development process to sell to your niches
  • Why helping your clients be better at their job is the heart of your biz dev plan
  • What to do with those clients outside your niches that you don’t want to fire

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 today. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an agency owner and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies throughout the year gives him a unique perspective on running an agency today.

AMI works with agency owners by:

  • Leading agency owner and key executive 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 he works with those 250+ agencies every year — Drew has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal called his blog “One of 10 blogs every entrepreneur should read.”

The Golden Nuggets:

“There isn't a magic formula to this. You, you have to look at your niches and decide which one needs to be built up, and which one that you have the best shot at building up quickly and successfully.” – @drewmclellan Click To Tweet “For developing a successful content strategy, I advise using the following mantra: How can I help you, prospective client, be better at your job today?” – @drewmclellan Click To Tweet “One of the biggest mistakes agencies make is they lunge at the sale and they scare away the prospect.” – @drewmclellan Click To Tweet “Successful agencies have these things in common: they carve out their niches and they own them with their subject matter expertise.” – @drewmclellan Click To Tweet


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Helpful Resources from this Episode:

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Speaker 1: If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute, Build a Better Agency Podcast, presented by Hubspot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan,


Drew McLellan: Hey, everybody, Drew McLellan, here. Thanks for joining me. Welcome to another episode of Build a Better Agency. In fact, this is episode 155, and while that probably doesn’t sound like a normal number that you would celebrate, I’m celebrating that number because 156 is 52 times three. So, I am just about ready to wrap up our third year of podcasting. And I have to tell you, next week, accomplishment of completing our third year, really reminds me how many great episodes we’ve had, how many great guests we’ve had.


  And mostly in terms of gratitude, I am grateful to you. So, thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your feedback for your ratings, your reviews. Thanks for coming up and saying, hello, to me at conferences and telling me about an episode that really resonated with you, or that really helped you make a change in your agency.


  I’m so grateful for the feedback. I’m so grateful for all of you coming back every week to listen. I love the stories of where you listened to the podcast. I know I’m out on walks with dogs right now. I know I’m on treadmills right now. I’m probably on a commuter train too.


  So, thanks for taking me along with you, and for welcoming me and my guests into your schedule and your life. I’m grateful for every one of you. And I’m grateful that I get a chance to whisper in your ear every week. I love producing this content. I love talking to these amazing smart people that I get introduced to every week, and then I get to introduce you to every week.


  But what I love most of all, is that I hope in some small way am helping, that I make this tough world, this tough work we do a little easier, a little more profitable, and hopefully you feel a little less alone. So, thanks for listening. And here’s to year four. I’m excited for where we’re headed. We’ve obviously already recorded some of the early episodes into year four of the podcast, and you’re going to love them.


  And so, I just appreciate the fact that I know how busy you are, and I know that you have choices in terms of what you listen to, so I’m grateful that Build a Better Agency is one of the things you choose. So, thank you very much for giving me the ability to be that voice in your ear and to come alongside you on the journey.


  Another way I’d like to thank you, and another way we’d like to thank you every week is that we have all this amazing stuff that our podcast guests give us. So, if you loved last week’s episode with Daniel Lemin, about Talk Triggers, the book he wrote with Jay Baer, very, very soon, we’re going to be giving away a copy of that book and a little stuffed lama, that the guys sent me along with copy of the book to give to you.


  So, make sure you go to agencymanagementinstitute.com/podcastgiveaway. And as you know, if you’ve already signed up for that, then you’re all set. You don’t have to do it again. But if you haven’t done that yet, make sure that you go, because we give away workshops. We give away books. We give away classes. We give away access to some of our online courses. So, don’t miss out on that. And if you’ve already won, don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that you’re out of the running, so you can win again.


  So, thanks for joining us. Thanks for being a listener. And thanks for letting us share some of the great stuff that our guests give us to share with you.


  As you can see, if you’re watching the video version of the podcast, I am in hotel room. I am in Chicago for one more day, and then I’m headed to Philadelphia. So, and the sun is just coming up. So, I’m guessing that the lighting in the video is going to change a little bit as we talk, but hopefully that won’t be too distracting because I have a lot of things that I want to share with you.


  So, one of the listeners shot me an email and said, “Hey, I think we’re good. I think we’ve figured out what our niche is, but I don’t know how to convert my agency from being a generalist to an agency that really honors the niches that we’re going to serve.” So, Kathy, thank you for asking the question. Thanks for forgiving me a great topic for the solo cast. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today, is why niche? And if you have identified the niche or niche areas, and we’re going to talk about why I think it should be niches, not niche, how you go about moving your agency from that more generalist position to more of a specialist.


  So, let’s first talk about why you should niche. So, the reality is, we know that clients prefer hiring an agency that has expertise in their industry or subject matters. So, in 2015, as part of our Agency Ed Research series, we talked to a bunch of agency decision makers. So, they were CMOs, business owners, anybody who hired an agency. And what they told us is with a resounding yes, it was not a small number, that they really prefer to hire an agency that has expertise in their world.


  And we all know this, every client believes that their industry or their business is completely unique, and that if you’re not familiar with the work that they do, then you can’t do as good a job. And so, we then asked them, “Well, how much of the agency’s work needs to be in your category or industry, or niche for you to think of them as a specialist, as opposed to a generalist?” And the number was 25%.


  So, if you have 25% of your billings or your clients in their space, they consider you a subject matter expert, they consider you an expert. So, you are a niche player for them, and for them, that has value. And that value by the way, translates to how you can build those clients. So, the analogy that many of you have heard me use is, there’s a very big difference in what we pay a brain surgeon versus a general practitioner. And if I have to have surgery anywhere near my brain, while I’m sure the general practitioner is good at what he or she does, I want the specialist. And I will pay anything that it costs to make sure that I have the best person doing the surgery on or near my brain. Right?


  So, the clients are telling us that that is their attitude as well, is that if they have a strong opinion about wanting a specialist, they get that your specialty means that you are going to be more expensive. So, in a world where a lot of our work is being commoditized, because we’re competing, not only with other agencies, but in-house agencies, with freelancers, and it’s difficult sometimes to make in there in terms of what you need to charge per hour. Not that I’m suggesting you charge by the hour, but as you’re building out your estimate, one of the ways for you to be able to charge a premium price for your work is to be a specialist.


  And also, quite frankly, it’s easier as an agency, it’s easier for you to stay current. It’s easier for you to have a true depth of expertise in a couple of industries, rather than every industry. It’s also easier for you to create a thought leadership position for you not to create content, which we’ll talk about in a minute that is generic, and that any agency could own. It’s easier for you to truly be a thought leader and to have content that really informs and educates around your expertise. When you have 27 different kinds of clients in 27 different industries, it’s pretty tough to produce that kind of volume of content. And it’s pretty tough for them as the buyer to sort through all the other 26 industries to find the industry that matters to them. But when you only have three or four specialties, it’s much easier for them to identify that you really understand their business.


  It’s also easier when you are a niche agency to have a strong point of view about that industry and where the industry and marketing collide. And that strong point of view is what differentiates you from all the other agencies, who also have that specialty. Because let’s face it, you’re not the only agency out there that says that you know how to reach moms, or is the only automotive agency, or whatever it is, the only healthcare agency.


  So, you’ve got to have more than the niche to really be differentiated in the space. And having a strong point of view around the work you do and how to reach the audience, you need to reach, that’s much easier, and you have a much more credible story, if the niches you serve are not vast, but it’s just a handful.


  And at the end of the day, and this may be the most compelling reason of all for you, it’s a lot easier to fish in one pond. So, if you know that your agency is focusing on a specific industry or category, then it’s easier for you to go out and be known in that category for you to show up at the right trade shows, for you to produce the content, for you to put together a targeted list of prospects. All of that is easier when you only have one pond to worry about.


  So again, if you have one pond per niche, and you have a finite number of niches, which we’ll get into in a minute, it’s a much easier prospecting world for you. So, all of those reasons are why I think it’s super important for you to niche out your agency.


  So, why don’t all agencies do this? Well, honestly, and you all know this is true about yourself too, it’s tough to walk away from a dollar. If somebody walks in the door and they’ve got a big bag of money, it’s difficult to say, “Thank you no, but that’s not the kind of agents who we are. Let me give you a referral to somebody who I think can help your business.” And it’s a little scary to put all your eggs in one basket. So, by the way, I’m not a fan of the one basket, but I am a fan of a few baskets. And I’ll elaborate on that in a minute.


  And sometimes when you decide to niche down your agency, so once you’ve decided what those niches are, and you look at the team that built or the processes, or the software you subscribe to, or the deliverables that your agency is known for, the reality is, and some of that may have to change, and sometimes that means swapping people out, or it may mean adding a new discipline or skillset into the shop that you don’t have now. So, either you have to train the people you have, or you have to hire for it. So, all of these things make it super difficult to have the courage to really niche. And yet we know that the benefits outweigh the risks.


  I cannot tell you, you know that I hang out with agencies every day, and I will tell you that the agencies, and by the way, I see their financials, the agencies that are killing it, the agencies that are growing and doing well, and adding staff, and that new business is getting easier for them, and they are crushing their content, all of those things, those agencies have niched down, so that they are specialists rather than generalists, without exception.


  So, it’s really, as I’ve alluded to a couple of times in my comments, I believe that it is not an all or nothing thing. So, I am not a fan of an agency having 100% of their AGI or their revenue tied to one niche or industry. And I’ll tell you why I’m not a fan, is because we don’t get to control the economics of our world.


  So, there were a lot of agencies that were making a lot of money and doing really well right before the recession hit. And those agencies, especially if they were in the home building space or some of those kinds of industries, they completely tanked, or they went out of business because there was absolutely no demand for their expertise, because of the economy. And they had to be able to just basically downsize and skinny up as tight as they could, oftentimes just down to the business owner or partners, and let everybody go. And then they had to just survive on whatever scraps they could get until the recession ended. And I will tell you, the agencies that survive that no longer do work in the home building industry, they have carved out different niches for themselves, because they realized that it was just too risky.


  So, many of you have probably heard me talk about this before, but I think it bears repeating. I am a fan of a three or four legged stool. So, I am not a fan of a one legged stool. I don’t want to sit on one of those. I don’t feel that it’s particularly stable. Not a fan of the two legged stool, again, not very comfortable, and feeling stable on that, but a three or four legged stool that is a sturdy stool. I can sit on that. And if one of the legs gets a little wobbly or a little loose, there are still two other legs or three other legs to prop me up.


  So, from a numbers point of view, what I’m saying to you is, I would like you to have three or four categories of clients. And for most of you, let’s look at the three legged stool first. So, the first leg of the stool is going to be your biggest client or clients. So, it might be your largest couple of clients in a specific industry. So, that’s industry number or niche number one. The second leg of the stool, same thing, an industry where you have multiple clients and a depth of expertise, niche number two. And I would say each of those legs needs to be about 40% of your overall AGI.


  So, one of the keys with niching in this model, this three or four legged stool model is trying to keep the legs pretty balanced, so that one is not longer than the other, because again, what that does is it makes the stool a little unstable. And it will take a while for you to balance out those legs. And that’s fine. You just need to watch the numbers. And we’ll talk about that in a second. You need to watch the numbers, so that you can balance out the stool.


  And the third leg of the stool in my three-legged model is what I call the kitchen junk drawer. So, everyone has a drawer in their kitchen that’s got this… You’ve got your silverware drawer. You have your utensils drawer. You might have a kitchen towel drawer. But you have one drawer in your kitchen that is the catch all, it’s got stamps, it’s got tape, it’s got notepads, it’s got pens. It’s a junk drawer, right? So, in the agency world, I think of that as your buddy’s boards and brag worthy of stool legs. So, that is legacy clients that are now your friends, that don’t fall into your niche, but you’re not going to make them go away.


  We all serve on boards, or we have family members or something, where we have some obligation, some familial obligation, whether it’s a true family, or it’s like you sit on a nonprofit board that generates work for you, that you can’t really say no to. And then there are probably a client or two on your roster that are just, they’re either a great name, they’re a great referral source, but there’s something about them that makes them sort of brag worthy and worth keeping, even though they don’t fall on your niche. And the key is to manage that junk drawer, so that it doesn’t get too big.


  So, in my three legged stool model, I would say the first leg of your stool, that first niche is about 40% of your AGI, ideally. So, this is what you’re working towards, right? I’m not saying that off the bat, this is what it’s going to be.


  The second leg of your stool, also 40%. And your junk drawer stool, your catchall, your buddy’s boards and brag worthy, is no more than 20% of your total AGI. And if it’s more than 20%, then you’re getting very close to not being a specialist.


  So, I’m giving you permission in air quotes to have some things outside of the industries or the niches that you choose. And by the way, a niche doesn’t have to be an industry. It could be an audience. It could be something else. But typically it’s an industry. I’m giving you permission and I’m saying, it’s not practical for you to say, “All we do is rural non-profit healthcare systems, and we will turn down all of their work.” It’s not practical. So, you’re going to have a little bit of work that sits outside of your industry specialties.


  On the four legged stool, as you might imagine, you’re going to divide those four legs by about 25%. So, the first leg is going to be your first niche or industry. And that’s typically either one or two large clients. And then the second industry or niche is about 25%. The third is 25%. And then, again, your junk drawer, the buddy’s boards and brag worthy, no more than 20% to 25%. So, absolutely cap it at 25% of your AGI.


  Once you have a niche, you need to really look and sound that part, and again, if you have too many. So, I am not a fan of more than the four legged stool. You do not need a fifth leg to your stool. A four legged stool is plenty sturdy. And in any economic time, one of the things that will happen is one leg might get a little wobbly, but the other two legs or three legs hold steady. And so, that allows you to bridge this gap of, yes, you want to be a niche agency, and yes, you want to double down on a couple of industries, but I don’t want to see you expose yourself to the risk of only having one.


  So, I know that I’m not in alignment with some of the other folks out there who are talking to you about agencies. I know that there are people who say you got to go all in with one. And I understand the beauty of that. I understand that that would be super appealing and that it would be easier. But I also think it’s riskier. So, you can decide, you can have a one-legged stool, anywhere from a one to a four legged stool. I’m a big fan of the three or four legged stool, but no more than four legs. So that’s, I guess the ultimate message around the niching number is no more than four, including a junk drawer. And that junk drawer needs to be capped at 20% or 25%. You decide where your risk tolerance is. So, just like investing, you decide.


  I want you to be a little more stable and a little safer, so I’m advocating for the three to four leg, but I know some of you who are out there are a one or two legged stool. And if you’re comfortable with that and you are willing to take that risk, then I think that’s fine.


  There are other financial ramifications to that, which we’re not going to get into today. But in terms of how much money you need to keep in the business and all of that sort of stuff, obviously the riskier the business is, this also applies, if you have a gorilla, then you have to make some different choices. So, maybe that’ll be a subject for the next solo cast.


  But anyway, so let’s assume you’ve identified the niches, right? So, you know what your three or four legs of the stool are. We’re not going to worry about the junk drawer. That is not something you pursue. You don’t go chasing that stuff. That’s basically, that’s a way for you to give yourself permission and your team permission, when you can’t say no for one reason or another, you’ve got a little place to put those clients, but they are not your focus. And they’re certainly not your outbound focus in terms of what you’re trying to get to in terms of who you’re chasing, right? To get clients.


  So, once you’ve figured out the niche, now you need to look the part. If you’re going to tell me that you’re an expert, you’re an automotive expert, then what does your website look like? And what is your content look like? And does it clearly communicate those niches?


  So, I have a lot of agencies who say, “Well, we’re a specialist in X, Y, Z.” But when I go to their website, it talks about lead gen or other things that are not their subject matter expertise. So, you need to make sure that your website content and your website copy are all around that niche.


  So, for most of you, by the way, when you say you’ve niched, you haven’t, your niches are too big. So, like health care is not a niche. That is a huge industry with a ton of niches in it. And no one’s going to believe, no one in the healthcare industry is going to believe that you have subject matter expertise in every aspect of healthcare. But saying, “You know what? We are specialists in rural, not-for-profit hospital systems.” That’s a niche. Pharma is not a niche, too big, too broad, too much. But pharma products aimed at infertile couples, that’s a niche. So, if you are saying that you are a banking expert or a healthcare expert, or a transportation expert, or an automotive expert, you need to narrow that focus down.


  So, there are plenty of client types in every niche. So, you need to understand which niches you’re going to serve, but you also need, after you’ve done that work of really narrowing down, and I will argue that most of you have not narrowed down far enough. So, you have to have a very defined audience, and really push yourself to say, “Could this get smaller? Could this get tighter?” And really also be honest with yourself, “Can I be an expert in every aspect of what I am calling our niche?” And if it’s too big for you to have that depth of knowledge, then you need to skinny it down.


  But even after you’ve done that, even let’s say, you’ve landed on pharma products aimed at infertile couples, and that’s really going to be your expertise. That’s great. And you’ve got your industry or your niche. But even inside that niche, you have to decide what kinds of clients are the right fit for you.


  So, many of you have heard me talk about the sweet spot client filter that we have developed for agencies to use. And we’re going to include a PDF that walks you through how to go through that process. How do I identify what I call your sweet spot clients? So, what is it about a certain type of client? It might be a title. It might be an age. It might be, they’ve never had an agency before. It might be, you are not their first agency. So, for every agency, there are a type of client that you work better with, that you can delight day in and day out. And I want you to identify those, so that not only do you have the niche, but you know what your sweet spot client looks like, so you can go hunting for those specific companies or clients inside the niche.


  So, when you walk through this sweet spot client filter and you go through that exercise, you’re actually going to end up with a checklist that you can vet all of your prospects against. Do they have an internal marketing department? Either that’s a check or it’s not a check, depending on what matters to you. Do they want an agency to do bread and butter work? In other words, are they giving their agencies work every day, or do they want a specialist and with bigger projects? For all of you, the answers of what’s best for your agency are going to be different.


  So, you have to do the work of walking through this sweet spot client filter, which you can download on the show notes page of this podcast. But at the end of the day, if you do that, you’re going to end up with a checklist that will tell you exactly who you should target inside each niche. And by the way, it may or may not be the same for each niche. So, you’re going to want to go through this exercise a couple of times. It’s not enough to declare an expertise. You also need to walk that talk. And it’s a lot easier to do that when you, A, have identified the niches, and B, you know who you’re talking to inside that niche.


  So, we’re going to get into the content play and how you move clients from the generalist to the specialist. But first I want to just talk about, this is not instantaneous. Once you decide what niches you want to serve, and you decide what kinds of clients inside those niches are your sweet spot clients, it’s not magic. It doesn’t all of a sudden that you’re at the 40, 40, 20, or the 25, 25, 25, 25, sort of factoring of the stool legs. So, this is going to take some work, and it’s going to take a little bit of time and tracking. So, you need to be patient. And you can’t just fire every client who all of a sudden magically doesn’t fit your newly defined niches and industries. I will say that odds are, you already have some of them in your portfolio. Some of them are already with you. But your entire roster of clients is not going to neatly fall into one of your niches. And that’s okay.


  So, what I’m going to have you do, is I want you to create a list for every niche. So, I want you to note the clients that fall into all of the niches, including the kitchen drawer, the junk drawer niche, which in the beginning probably is going to be your biggest fattest stool leg, which is okay. That’s a fine place to start.


  So, create a list for each niche by clients. So, list every client that would fall under each leg of the stool. Note the profitability of each client and the percentage of your agencies AGI that they represent, because remember, that’s how we’re going to look at the legs of the stool and make sure that one is not longer than the other, is it’s based on AGI for each industry or niche.


  So, in theory, you’re going to have four lists, including your buddies’ boards and brag worthy group, or your junk drawer groups. So, now you can look at them and say, “Okay, well, I’ve got one leg that I’m at 50%.” And that’s probably your junk drawer. Or it might be one industry where you already have a lot of expertise or you have a gorilla client. But boy, the other legs of the stool, they’re a little stumpy compared to that main leg.


  So, all right. “Now, which leg am I going to strengthen? Which leg am I going to build up, so then it starts to balance?” Whichever is the dominant leg of the stool, if you will. And the way you’re going to do that, is you’re going to decide, “Do I want to build up the weakest or the leanest? Do I want to look at the leg of the stool that needs building up where I have the best story to tell, where I have the most case studies?” Maybe it’s the industry or the leg of the stool, where there are the fewest agencies in that space, or maybe where you have the strongest point of view. So, we’re going to get into point of view in a second, but where you really have an opinion about the way work should be done in that industry.


  So, there isn’t a magic formula to this. You have to look at your four legs of the stool or your three legs of the stool and decide which one needs to be built up and which one you have the best shot at building up quickly and successfully. And that’s the one that you would want to double down on, and you would want to continue to build that one up, to try and start to balance out the stool. And you know what? Check these numbers every quarter and watch the profitability, and watch the AGI. And what I think you’ll find is within 18 months, you have a pretty balanced stool. If you really focus on this and you really, I’m going to talk in a minute about how you target people in your niches.


  If you’re really focused on this, you can get there, I would say in 12 to 18 months, in most cases. And you’re going to slowly shift the percentages in each leg of the stool until you’re close to my ratio, is that 40, 40, 20, or the 25% on the four legged model. And then once you do that, once you’re balanced in terms of AGI, then you just keep trading up.


  So then, as you develop, here’s one of the things you’re going to find out is, as you develop an expertise and a reputation for an expertise in a specific industry, you’re going to be sought out by other players in that industry. So, you’re going to have an opportunity to trade up your clients in terms of size or prestige, or what they’re willing to pay. And so, you just got to try and keep the legs of the stool in balance as you continually grow the quality and quantity of the clients in each leg of the stool.


  So, okay, now, you’ve identified the niches and you’re starting to track those. So, how do you set the bait? How do you start to move your client base and your biz dev efforts? How do you set the bait, so you can catch the kind of clients that you want to serve? And this is really what you do really well for your clients every single day, but many of you fail to do this for yourself. You are great at helping your clients grow their business, about targeting the right customers, and then getting on the radar screen of those customers and earning their business. This is what you do every day. You’re awesome at it. But you’re not awesome at it when it comes to doing it for yourself.


  So, as you begin to identify your niches and those sweet spot clients within each niche, it becomes much more clear what you need to do. And I think one of the reasons why agencies aren’t good at this for themselves is because they cast too wide a net. And so, it just becomes overwhelming to do all the things you need to do. So, you just get paralyzed and you don’t do anything. Or you allow the fact that there are client fires going on every day to distract you and you just don’t get it done.


  So, content is one of the ways we’re going to talk about baiting for these clients. And so, content is generic without a point of view. So, if you’re going to say you have an expertise in an industry, A, your content should be about that industry. Your examples should be about the industry. You should be talking about trends and where marketing, and that industry collide. And you need to differentiate yourself from everyone else in the space.


  So again, let’s say that your niche is pharma products that are aimed at helping infertile couples. So, you can write about marketing topics. You can write about pharma marketing, but that doesn’t differentiate you. And you can even write about pharma marketing with around infertile couples. But even that there’s going to be another agency or two, or three, or five, or 10 who have that expertise. So, how do you differentiate even in that subset. And the way you do that is by having a point of view, by having an opinion about how business should be done, about that industry, about the kind of work that agencies should do to help clients in that space. You need to have an informed opinion that you can then back up with case studies and other things, and you need to repeat it often.


  So, no more blog posts about Pantone color changes, no more asking everybody on your staff just to write a blog post about anything, any marketing tip, and then putting it out there in the world, you have to really be thoughtful about the content you create. So, you really want to say something that is unique, that is thought provoking, that’s educational or inspirational, or just don’t say anything. And by the way, not saying anything is no longer an option.


  When I look out over the agencies that we work with and we serve every day, the ones that are knocking it out of the park are the ones that do have a content strategy. And they’re out there building their thought leadership position around the niches that they serve.


  But from a client’s perspective, if you can demonstrate that you understand my world, you understand marketing and you know how to bring those two worlds together in a really unique way to be helpful, that’s an amazing way for you to get my attention. That’s an amazing way for you to tell me and to prove to me, without having to say it, that you are an expert.


  So, in the online course that we created called Agency New Business Blueprint, I talk about this mantra that I want every agency to use as they think about creating content. And the mantra is this, how can I help you, prospective clients, be better at your job today? How can I help you, prospective client, and by the way, current clients, be better at your job today? That’s what your content strategy should be all about, that you should be creating content that creates community, that draws people to you because they can’t get it in a lot of other places, and it’s good, and it’s consistent, and they can rely on it. And you’re always talking about things that matter to them.


  Are you going to hit it out of the park every time? No. Sometimes the content is going to be a little off in terms of what matters to them, but it consistently, most of the time is of value to them. And when that is the case, then they want to lean in and they want to hear more. And if this is a topic where you really want to do a deep dive, and by the way, when you do this well for yourself, it will also attract clients to you who want you to do it for them.


  And one of the challenges that many agencies have is, content is time-consuming. It takes a lot of labor, especially if it’s going to be good subject matter expert content, rather than generic blog posts. If you really want to do a deep dive into this topic, come to Orlando in January, depending on when you’re listening to this. If you’re listening to this in real time, this is