I’ve had this problem for a while. I feel it impeding my ability to do my best, most important work, and yet, I haven’t faced it before. Oh, I give it lip service or a half-hearted fix, but nothing sticks. Today, I took the first step to truly eradicating from my life. Why am I telling you this? Because I suspect many of you suffer from the same affliction, and I thought we might work on it together. My problem? There’s no white space on my calendar. I book myself so tightly in meetings, coaching calls, on-site consultations, workshops, peer groups, etc., that I don’t give myself enough margin to actually get my work done. And so I do it on the weekends or at 1 am. I get it done but is it as good as it would be if I were fully charged and wasn’t trying to cram it into the cracks? I have some huge plans for 2021, but to cross the finish line, I need big blocks of time to create. I know if I can find that time, I can create uber helpful content, videos, mini-courses, and other teaching tools that will be incredibly valuable to you. But…first I have to find the time. The challenge is — I love every single activity that fills my calendar. I love coaching agency owners. I love sitting in a conference room working with a leadership team. I love teaching a workshop or consulting on a gnarly issue. I’m good at them, and the work is rewarding. For you, it might be doing strategy for a client or sitting in on a creative brainstorming session. Or putting out a client fire or jumping [...]
We’ve been doing some initial strategic planning in the hallowed halls of AMI and one of the questions that keeps getting batted around is… what if we changed our own rules? It’s led to some very intriguing conversations and “what if” scenarios. And no doubt will continue to do so. I think as business owners we sometimes forget that we actually get to make the rules. All too often, we let clients or employees or habit or convention or fear or complacency (or any combination of these) drive how we actually run our business. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut or feel boundaries that may actually not exist. What if you HAD to change the rules? What rules would you consider modifying, eliminating or strengthening? Just as a mental exercise... imagine you had to radically change something in each of these areas: How you are staffed How do you mentor or groom your team? The types of clients you serve How/where you connect with your clients The work your agency produces Your pricing model Your biz dev model How you as an owner spend your days Your work schedule The metrics that define success How you manage your agency’s money I’m not suggesting that you implement all of these radical ideas. But when you force yourself to come up with crazy things… some of the crazy might actually also be smart. Another way to approach this… same list but answer this question for each area — what do I hate about how we… Just some food for thought that might yield a big change or two. This was originally published in the weekly AMI newsletter. To subscribe, click here.
At the beginning of most of my engagements, I start by sending the client team a questionnaire that helps me establish a baseline understanding of how the agency approaches business development—strengths, weaknesses, skills, and areas of resistance. In it, I ask them to describe their ideal client. Here’s a sampling of what I hear more often than not: “Open-minded, seek out expert advice, and take it, challenge us with problems they can’t solve, value our time and expertise.” “Really smart, and motivated to get things done.” “Collaborators who recognize the importance of strategic planning and thoughtful execution.” “They provide us with direct access to key decision-makers. They’re collaborative, value our opinions and input, and have a healthy balance of practical and aspirational thinking for their brand.” “They’re ‘brand collaborators’—marketing-led companies looking for a long-term, transparent partner to challenge the status quo and collaborate on integrated solutions.” “They trust us, respect us, and like spending time with us. Discussion is always thoughtful, relaxed, and challenging. It never feels like we’re not on the same team even when we disagree.” “They are appreciative of the work we do and pleasant to work with.” These are pretty idyllic descriptions. And not necessarily unrealistic. Every agency deserves to work with clients like these. The problem is, these descriptions are limited in their ability to help you find ideal clients. I began to consider why agencies default to describing ideal clients in this way. What I realized is agencies tend to frame the question as "who are we best served by?" when the question I’m really asking is “whom do you serve best?” Understanding the distinction between the two has big implications for the effectiveness of your new business outreach. Who is [...]