Agency Owners

5 Big Agency Owner Mistakes Make and How to Avoid Them

All agency owners have one thing in common: the desire to create a company that does it better and does it their way. But you can’t realize your vision if your agency isn’t financially successful. It’s simple: Your agency must bring in revenue, and your team must be rewarded for its hard work. Agency owners still trip up on the same five mistakes over and over, despite having a straightforward goal. These five agency owner mistakes aren’t unique, and fixing them isn’t optional. Get back to your main goal, and get over what’s making your agency more complicated and less successful. The Big Five Agency Owner Mistakes These five mistakes are probably things you already know you need to fix. They’re the things holding your agency back and keeping you from being as efficient and successful as you could be. 1. Your agency doesn’t have a business plan. Most organizations don’t have one; of those that do, very few actually use them. But without one, how do you recognize areas that need improvement? Your plan needn’t be a 20-page monstrosity that sits on your bookshelf collecting dust. It can be a single piece of paper that identifies your most pressing needs in finances, management, staffing and more. If you commit to your business plan, you can increase your bottom-line profits significantly. The plan should focus on your vision for your company. What do you want for your future? Take your ideas, make a list, and then make them real. 2. You don’t stick to your processes. No one violates an agency’s procedures more than the owner. But we both know the problem with that. If you don’t do it, neither will the rest of your team. That’s why [...]

Get Your Clients to Sing Your Praises

In the Flight of the Conchords song “Carol Brown,” Jemaine’s attempt to serenade a love interest is thwarted by a choir of his ex-girlfriends. As Jemaine sings his own praises as a would-be lover, the choir sings Jemaine’s many faults: “He doesn’t cook or clean; he’s not good boyfriend material.” (“Ooh, we   can eat cereal,” he counters.) Contradicted and drowned out, Jemaine laments, “Who organized all my ex-girlfriends into a choir and got them to sing?” Poor Jemaine. One lone voice doesn’t stand a chance against a choir singing in harmony. A Choir of Clients Place your agency in Jemaine’s shoes. You’re wooing a company you hope will hire you. Instead of ex-girlfriends, though, the choir is made up of current clients. When you start singing, does the choir back you up? Or does it warn the potential client to make like Carol Brown and take a bus out of town? You can stack the odds in your favor by organizing the choir yourself. Build a strong, vibrant community for your clients — something that gives them a real sense of connection and value — and they’re much more likely to sing your praises. The Benefits By forging meaningful bonds among your clients, you become their common ground. As you foster connections for them and add value on all sides of the equation, they’re drawn closer to you. A community of clients also prevents your agency from being pigeonholed. When your clients tell one another about the customized services you provide, they’re helping you by painting a complete picture of your agency’s capabilities. This leads to opportunities to engage them in new ways. From your client’s perspective, the community provides added value in the [...]

Hey agency owners — are you struggling with your millennial employees?

One of the most common struggles I hear from agency owners is that they're struggling with managing their millennial employees.  For a bit of levity, I often share this video.[youtube]https://youtu.be/Sz0o9clVQu8And in case you're a millennial reading this -- here's the response about working with "older" employers.[youtube]https://youtu.be/C1a6M3dBNwc

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: [...]

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 [...]

Tired of being treated like a vendor? Stop acting like one.

Agency owners and staff alike have been complaining to us for several years about the growing number of clients – including existing clients – who insist on employing the agency as needed, rather than maintaining a long-term working relationship. In other words, using the agency as a temporary source of specified services, rather than as a valued advisor. If you're tired of jumping through purchasing department hoops or being one of many agencies at the table -- there's a way out.  This doesn’t have to happen to you.  But you need to be willing to make sue changes. It's time to start acting  like an advisor and resist being mistaken for a vendor. How many times have you heard that if you look like a duck, act like a duck, etc., people will treat you like a duck? Maybe it's time for us to stop walking around, quacking! There are three key reasons why agencies are being treated like vendors today – one largely beyond your control and the others totally within you control. What you can't control The reason that's largely beyond your control is what's happening in businesses today. Many of them are experiencing workforce reductions and cost cutting because of the economy's ongoing struggles.  Unless you have a magic bullet for the economy -- you're going to have to find work arounds for this challenge. What you can control The reasons totally within your control are the willingness of agencies eager for income to behave like transient vendors, rather than being and presenting themselves as valuable long term advisors. The second reason that your agency gets stuck in vendor mode is that agencies have been hiring “nice” account managers whose focus in [...]