Advertising and Marketing

Time to Retire the Digital Jedi

Long after the Web evolved into a marketing tool that could be used by brands, agencies scrambled to hire executives that knew digital. Advertising became so obsessed with the idea of digital that they felt the need to change the way they did business to keep up with the rhetoric. Digital Jedis and other strange roles were created to ensure clients knew that the agency could do digital. But what has the role of digital really changed? And is it necessary to differentiate agency executives with traditional and digital nomenclatures? We are winding down in the shiny-object stage of the digital invasion, and, luckily, saner heads are prevailing. Like print and broadcast, digital is simply a medium — it is not a strategy. Like all mediums, it comes with its own set of etiquettes and rules, but in the end, good brand strategy should be driving how agencies guide their clients. Because digital is so ubiquitous, there isn’t a person in an agency today that shouldn’t be taking digital into account with every client decision they make. Digital isn’t just a way to access information or entertainment. Digital has become an overlay that touches nearly every aspect of daily life. Even if you are using traditional media to drive a message, there is (or should be) a digital play or connection within that process. The collision of these two moments, agencies becoming more mature in terms of their digital jedi chops and consumers weaving digital technology into every aspect of their lives, is forcing agencies to rethink how they position their digital skills. Fortunately, we’ve moved away from silo departments to a more holistic core-competency model that permeates throughout an entire agency. Agencies need to [...]

Guaranteeing Your Work Using Predictive Marketing with Stephen Woessner

I know and work with a lot of agency owners who do incredible work for their clients but very few of them are willing to guarantee that work with predictive marketing and write their clients a refund check if it doesn’t deliver the results. Are you willing to guarantee your work? To make that kind of promise — you’d better be ready to bring the goods. In my podcast conversation with Stephen Woessner we dig into how today’s agency needs to understand their client’s need for verifiable and predictive ROI and that the agencies that can deliver on that expectation, can plan on a long and fruitful existence. To build that kind of agency — it takes a brilliant methodology, incredible transparency and more accountability than most agencies have in their processes. But it is possible.  And highly profitable. Stephen and I talk predictive marketing specifics about how agencies can deliver leads and sales for their clients and best of all — get credit for doing so. We get into the nitty gritty of issues like bounce rates and the impact that has on sales and we talk philosophically about recognizing that your clients exist in a holistic ecosystem and their agency had better be able to influence every facet of it. You’ll be taking notes through this one so be prepared. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/stephen-woessner/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web. If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below. If you're going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn't you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency, [...]

The Agency Owner’s Job Description

Here’s the ad agency structure kernel of truth you’ve been denying for too long. You can’t own/run a successful, scaleable agency and still be in the weeds of client work. You just can’t do it. I work with 200+ agencies a year and whehter they’re small (1-15 people) or large independently owned agencies (100+ people) — if the owner is still servicing clients, they’re not servicing the agency. If you being hit by a bus or abducted by aliens would dramatically change your agency’s monthly AGI, then congratulations — you just created company so you could be a day laborer. You simply traded one job/boss for another job/boss. And I’m betting your current boss makes you work worse hours for worse pay. What a jerk, right? Actually you're right. You shouldn’t tolerate that life any more. Not only is it a lousy job for lousy pay but you can’t grow your business because you’re the bottleneck. The sticking point. The black hole where ideas/innovation goes to die because you don’t really have the time to think them through or execute on them. If you are working in the business, you aren’t working on the business. Which means your agency will not scale/grow and no one will want to buy it because you’re too integrally involved.  And if all of that's true -- why in the world would you take the risk, the pressure, the heart burn and the worry?  Just go get a job. So what should you be doing with your time? Here’s how a strong agency owner should be spending his/her time (roughly) every week. This is your agency owner's job description. Granted this is ideal….but it gives you something to shoot for [...]

An agency’s biggest new business waste of time

Here is a sales prospecting tip for you, agency owner: Don’t waste your time chasing after every person interacting with your content, you’ll drive yourself crazy and it’s not worth the time. Here’s why: Agencies are finally embracing the idea of being content creators.  That's the good news.  But, they're also falling into the trap of an agency's biggest new business waste of time - chasing after everyone and everything. That's the bad news. The agency's content efforts are beginning to generate some activity in the form of: Opt in lists for downloads or e-subscriptions Blog subscribers Commenters on their blogs and for some reason, many of you are drowning yourself in this data, trying to create elaborate ways to track these people down and move the conversation to the next level.  The truth is -- they just wanted your content.  That's it.  They haven't given you any indication that they're a potential buyer of your agency's services or that they have any interest in your shop at all. Could they be a prospect?  Sure.  But they could also be a college kid who downloaded your white paper on email marketing so they could plagiarize it for your Advertising 101 class.  Or anyone in between. Don't spend a ton of time with your sales prospecting at this stage.  The way you figure out if they're a prospect is to keep producing good content and always include an invitation to reach out and actually talk to you by email or phone.  But until they take that step -- they are a COLD lead at best.  They barely know who you are. Can you include some baby steps in your content?  Sure.  That might include something like: [...]

The perfect new business specialist for your agency

I work with hundreds of agency owners a year.  We spend a lot of time talking about what's working and what's not working.  If there's one common frustration among agency owners it's the hunt for the perfect new business specialist for your agency. I hate to tell you but your hunt for the new business guy or business development guru is a little like chasing the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot.  They don't exist.  In fairness, I will say that I know of one or two.  But that's it.  There are some exceptions to the rule but for the most part -- those hired specifically to sell an agency fall short and usually are fired (or leave for a better paying gig when your commission structure leaves them wanting) within 18 months. But have no fear -- there is the perfect new business specialist for your agency out there.  It's you. No one else can talk about your client's successes like you can.  No one else can ask the questions that get the prospect to say "hmm, no one has ever asked me that before."  No one else can look at their current marketing efforts and spot the places that need shoring up or could be so much better than it is now.  You can uncover their pain points because you've been in the trenches with your clients. Only a person who has grown up in the agency business and sweated it out with clients can have those kinds of conversations. This is why you - agency owner - are the perfect new business specialist for your agency. Can you arm a salesperson with a set of door opening questions?  Yes.  Can you teach [...]

Ten Ways To Motivate Agency Employees

Here are some questions you should be asking yourself when wondering how to motivate your employees: Can you name ten ways in which you motivate your agency employees?  Can you name one? Or are you too busy putting out fires to consciously think about keeping your team fired up and working at a peak performance level? It’s all too easy to complain about an employee’s perceived lack of performance on the job. Sometimes, performance can be dramatically improved just by paying a little attention to all your employees. Too often we end up taking good performers and the ones we like for granted and grumble about the ones that need to improve. Having a strategy to motivate, grow and retain your biggest and most expensive asset is just good business. It’s part of working ON the business, and not just IN it! Here’s a list of my top ten tips when you are wondering how to motivate your employees: Consciously try to say “hello” or “good morning” or “good night” or “good job” to everyone, every day. Notice them and acknowledge them.  It sounds simple but how many days do you walk through the office and just walk right by people because you're on your phone or deep in thought? Personally thank employees for doing a good job - face to face, in writing, and in front of others. Do it often and sincerely.  You cannot be too grateful. Be willing to take the time to meet with and listen to employees - as much as they need or want. Provide employees specific and frequent feedback about their performance. Support them in improving performance.  Ask for their opinion too. Recognize, reward and promote high performers; deal [...]

Ad Agency Principals: Tired of being treated like a vendor?

<A guest post by Rosemary Breehl> Smart Ad Agency principals are getting a seat at the CEO’s table and they’re doing it by building client relationships. It’s a new day out there for all of us. Competition is tougher. There are now “ten marketing dogs chasing that one corporate car.” CEO’s today are under terrible pressure to deliver revenues, so the last thing they want is another marketing firm trying to ‘sell’ them something. In their mind, marketing is an expense and the ad agency/marketing firm is just another vendor. Agency principals have been trying to change that perception for years. Interestingly enough, now is the perfect time to do it … with a new client or even better yet, with an existing one. When times are tough, CEO’s are looking for ‘game changers’. So they are more willing to listen. In a recent interview Jim Perdue, CEO of Perdue Farms said his expectations of marketing were: “First and foremost, marketing is the keeper of the brand’s health” … he goes on to say that “the health of the brand is critical to the success of the company and … marketing expenditures are not viewed simply as an expense but rather as an investment requiring a measurable rate of return.” And yet, you’re still doing brochures for your client. You need to up your game and start thinking strategically when building client relationships. You need to become a strategic partner and trusted advisor to your client … and not an expense. As long as you are still only delivering tactics, you don’t have a chance. You must act and sound different than your competitors. So, how do you get out of that rut and position yourself [...]

Advertising agency owners take money out of their own pocket to stay overstaffed

I have found that most agency owners are very generous people. They love the people they work with and want to create an amazing working environment. They are also very slow when it comes to firing an employee – whether it’s because the person isn’t performing at the right level or because billings have dropped and they just don’t need that person any more. All of that is lovely. But, you are literally taking that money out of your own pocket when you make that decision. I can’t tell you how many times an agency owner has lamented to me, “I know I should let Carl go but he’s putting two kids through college.” Yup – and you are taking money that should be going into your kid’s college fund (or your retirement or investment account) and handing it to Carl’s kids. Even more than that – by not firing an employee, you are putting your entire agency at risk, for the sake of this one person. Your responsibility is to run the agency in a fiscally sound manner so that the agency survives the ups and downs of cash flow, clients coming and going and other economic factors. I saw way too many good agencies just close their doors in the last recession because the agency owner stubbornly held onto too many people and didn’t trim overhead expenses fast enough. One ratio that can help you stay in alignment is a rule of thumb we use at Agency Management Roundtable with our agency clients. On average, for every $100,000 - $125,000 in AGI (adjusted gross income = your gross billings minus your costs of goods sold) you should have one full time equivalent. If [...]

What your agency employees want from their boss

Have you ever wondered what your agency employees want from their boss -- AKA you? I just spent two days with a room full of account executives, teaching them how to add more value to their agencies and their clients. As part of the conversation, we talked about improving employee relations and the difference between what they think their bosses want from them…and what you, agency owners, truly do want from them. It's an eye-opening experience for them to say the least.  But then I turn the tables and ask them what they want most from you -- their boss. What I always find fascinating is that "more money" is rarely mentioned. Here's a partial list of what your best AEs want from you: They want to learn from you, your past experiences and work They want to keep learning and for you to give them access to workshops, webinars, etc. They want to get smarter in terms of how business works, not just marketing They want to know you're running the business in a fiscally responsible way They want to work someplace that is vibrant and has a fun/cool factor They want the "this job isn't M-F, 9-5" to work both ways But the number one thing, time and time again that I hear they want most -- they want you to notice their work, their effort and express your appreciation for them going above and beyond.  They work hard and part of the reason they do it is because they want your trust and respect. We all know, as agency owners, that we get going so fast that sometimes we forget to say "thank you." This is a great place to start when [...]

How agencies should use content to attract prospects

Content marketing is all the rage but most of it is just packaging. Frankly -- agencies have been using content marketing for decades for their clients.  It's not new.  But what I think is new is the idea that agencies should use content to attract prospects for themselves. This type of content management strategy was the focus of an article I wrote for The Agency Post before the holidays. Agencies are, by their very nature, superb story tellers.  And they have an incredible depth of knowledge when it comes to marketing strategy, their own agency's niches, etc.  I get the whole "we're too busy doing it for our clients to do it for ourselves excuse" but honestly -- that needs to stop. In theory, agencies should be perfectly structured to create content so intriguing that people never want to leave the conversation. But the reality is most agencies practice a conservative approach with their content management strategy because they are paranoid about sharing anything of genuine value. They fear their competition might see it or that they might turn away potential clients because of what is posted. They’re also afraid that if they give knowledge away for free, the reader might never become a client. This is why most agencies are still just curating content or talking about their business, which of course means they’re not inspiring anyone. They are simply restating their company slogan or biography to exhaustion. If what you have to offer is high quality and helpful to the client, he or she will come back. Today, the model for professional services new business efforts is -- you give first.  Share something of value.  Demonstrate your expertise.  Show me you know your [...]