Build A Better Agency Podcast



Scale and grow your agency with better clients, invested employees, and a stronger bottom line, with Drew McLellan.


  • EP 308: Guide your business using the CEO’s compass with Deborah Coviello

    30/08/2021 Duração: 50min

    All agency owners strive to be great leaders but that can be a daunting task when there are so many things that demand attention on a daily basis. And understanding what defines a great leader and how to learn and implement those skills can be equally overwhelming. When it feels like the focus needs to be external on building the company and growing client relationships, time dedicated internally to processes and staff development is often rushed, minimized, or pushed to another day. Author Deborah Coviello has studied what it takes for a CEO to elevate not only their companies but also their people for long-lasting impact. Defining an agency’s “True North” creates the guiding star to ensure the entire team is moving in the same direction. She also believes a focus on people development sets the foundation for the greatest success. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Deborah and I look at various elements that create a great CEO. We talk about the need for clear processes that have the future in mind,

  • EP 307: Are you a wonderbread factory or an artisanal bakery revisited with Drew McLellan

    23/08/2021 Duração: 37min

    As we continue the push into a post-pandemic world, many agencies are taking a hard look at how they approach business and what they want this new future to look like. Many are implementing long-term changes inspired by what the last 18+ months has taught them. Others have been inspired to make changes toward a more focused vision. Success with these changes starts with becoming crystal clear on what kind of agency you want to be. In over 300 podcasts, I have never repeated or reposted an episode. Until now. Episode #100 entitled “Are You A Wonderbread Factory or An Artisanal Bakery?” is probably the single most common episode people mention when they bring up past episodes. The response has been so positive and consistent that it felt like a perfect episode to revisit as a guiding light toward defining your agency’s next chapter. In this solocast, I discuss the spectrum of how agencies can do business, from the creative-driven, custom-designed artisan way to the numbers-driven, one-size-fits-all factory app

  • EP 306: How military lessons translate to agency leadership with Ryan Carey

    16/08/2021 Duração: 54min

    An agency’s success or failure is reliant upon the owner’s leadership skills to a certain extent. There are many elements that ultimately create an agency’s legacy, but the strength of the leadership is one of the cornerstones that holds it all together. Most teams are built with people who have come up and through the agency world, so by the time they step into a leadership role, there’s a risk that they’re doing it the way everyone else has done it. If you want to have a next-level agency, it might be worth the effort to reexamine and sharpen your leadership approach. Ryan Carey is a ranger-qualified army vet who now heads up White Label IQ, our presenting sponsor here at the podcast. His background and experience have given him unique insights into leadership that allow him to come at agency life with an inspiring perspective. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Ryan and I explore military-inspired leadership and how it can benefit agencies. These worlds might seem vastly different but they both sha

  • EP 305: The t-shirt philosophy episode with Drew McLellan

    09/08/2021 Duração: 37min

    Whenever I fly, I wear a t-shirt that says “Be Good To People.” It’s a simple message that I sincerely believe in but the response to the shirt, especially during the pandemic, has been something I wasn’t expecting. It has inspired people to quite literally reach out and touch me with a pat of gratitude for the reminder. We are overwhelmed, exhausted, confused, and scared, all things that can bring out the worst in people, so a reminder that kindness exists, is possible, and can feel almost revolutionary. The generous response to my previous solocast about anxiety has inspired me to take a closer look at the message literally stamped on my chest, in hopes of finding ways to expand on self-care in a way that more fully benefits our teams and clients. In this solocast, I’m talking about the various ways we can be good to ourselves, our team, and the clients we serve. We’ve all been in survival mode and now it’s time to remember who and what we were surviving for. This is about relationship care. A big thank yo

  • EP 304: The ROI of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) with Nikki McCord

    02/08/2021 Duração: 01h07min

    There’s no denying that the call for diversity, equity, and inclusion has never been louder. In the middle of it all, agencies are trying to embrace change internally at the same time they are guiding clients on how to incorporate genuine representation, making us students and guides at the same time. It can be uncomfortable, awkward, and overwhelming, especially to dominant communities who have no real-world experience with marginalization. Nikki McCord turned her political science degree into a career dedicated to influencing change and policy. When she started her own consulting firm eight years ago, she chose to focus on three things: strategic facilitation, board governance, and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). She does so from the crossroads of compassion and urgency. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Nikki and I dive into all the difficult topics, starting with why she didn’t want to do this podcast. We talk about the ways agencies get stuck when trying to diversify, the costs and ROI o

  • EP 303: All things taxes with Craig Cody

    26/07/2021 Duração: 50min

    Creating a solid tax strategy for your agency might not seem like the most exciting thing to think about but doing so has the potential to put a lot more money directly into your pocket. It can be daunting to try and understand all of the options available, especially when a lot of the COVID-related aid adds to the confusion, so having a solid tax advisor in your corner is more important than ever. But how can you make sure you’re getting the guidance you need if you don’t even know what questions to ask? Craig Cody is a tax strategist and planner who has helped many AMI members better manage their money. His insights and guidance are hugely beneficial to any agency owner wanting to save money while also leveraging income and assets for personal and professional goals. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Craig and I discuss all things taxes. We look at COVID-related strategies that are still available. We explore surprising deductions to be found by better leveraging your home and how to get the most o

  • EP 302: Account services best practices with Taylor McMaster

    19/07/2021 Duração: 48min

    We all know how critical account service people are to the success of our agencies. It’s a tough job. Account service people must balance the needs of the agency, the internal team, and of course, the clients. A rock-solid account service person can help you retain and upsell clients, delivering a higher percentage of profitability on both counts. Creating a strong and dependable account services team and process is key to your success. Taylor McMaster is a former agency owner who discovered what she loved most about the work was the account services side of it. This realization inspired her to start a company that outsources account service people to agencies with the goal of improving agency-client relationships and allowing agency owners to step back from the day-to-day so they can concentrate on scaling their business. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Taylor and I look at several different elements to building successful account services. We discuss how to onboard new clients, ways to ensure you

  • EP 301: Reframing challenge through the lens of gratitude with Kristi Nelson

    12/07/2021 Duração: 52min

    We spent a lot of the last year steeped in worry. It was inevitable, given what we’ve all experienced. But even when we’re not facing a global pandemic — it’s easy to get caught up in your own mind, given our work. It’s the nature of the beast for problem solvers like us, working in an ever-changing industry, where our decisions and performance effect so many. Expected but exhausting. In that constant chaos, it can be especially difficult to remember to be grateful. Author Kristi Nelson turned her journey back from Stage 4 cancer into a mission to remind herself and others of the importance for gratitude. Many of us have been on the receiving end of a wake-up call. The Covid-19 pandemic created that for a lot of people in every corner of the globe. Kristi’s message is all about how to be thoughtful and intentional as we move forward. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Kristi and I explore gratitude, with a particular focus on how it can affect and elevate agency owners and their businesses. We discuss

  • EP 300: The pressures of agency ownership – are they all real? with Drew McLellan

    05/07/2021 Duração: 32min

    With the realization that this was going to be the 300th episode of this podcast, I unconsciously started to put an extraordinary amount of pressure on myself to create something that was fantastic and perfect. Agency owners live with an immense amount of pressure and expectation every day so this kind of thinking is normal. But that doesn’t make it healthy, helpful, or wise. In this solocast, I’m going to talk candidly about the anxiety I sometimes create for myself when striving for a perfection that is unachievable. I’m going to invite you to look at all the different pressures you feel in your life and career in order to clarify which ones are real and which ones you’re creating through your own drive for excellence and some unreasonable expectations. The truth is – our excellence comes from keeping a steady hand at the helm. It’s about the consistency and the tenacity we demonstrate by showing up every day. Our agencies are like ships and we are its captain. Our job is to pilot the ship to its next dest

  • EP 299: Igniting innovative thinking with Carla Johnson

    28/06/2021 Duração: 53min

    If there’s one thing every agency has to be able to do, it’s innovate. We are paid to be creative thinkers on command. We have to be able to generate ideas on a regular basis that serves both the agency and our clients. This can be exhausting and stressful to deliver consistently, especially because it’s usually only the agency owner or a handful of leaders who can do this work. What if everyone in the agency had the skills and confidence to be an innovative thinker? Author Carla Johnson has studied the art and science of innovation. The research she’s done and the methodologies she’s built are both fascinating and super useful. She believes innovative thinking is both innate and teachable. It’s been an integral part of human nature since the beginning of time and it’s her mission to help reignite a passion for it. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Carla and I explore all things innovation. We give this buzzword a clear definition. We discuss mistakes made in trying to find creative solutions. We loo

  • EP 298: The convergence of brand and culture with Theresa Agresta

    21/06/2021 Duração: 58min

    Culture has always been an integral part of any organization. We talk about it in different ways than we used to, but wherever people gather – they create culture. Often, that culture becomes one of the building blocks of an organization’s brand. But not always. The crossroads of brand and culture still holds a lot of untapped potential your agency can leverage both for yourself and your clients. Theresa Agresta is a former agency owner who realized the cultural assessments she was using to build a brand created a whole different business opportunity that would allow her to dig much deeper into the connection between brand and culture. The fascinating work she’s doing through her company CultureTalk is something that could greatly benefit agency clients, as well as their own shops. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Theresa and I look at the ways culture can be used as a tool for agency growth. We take a deep dive into the definition of culture, while also exploring ways to change a company culture, u

  • EP 297: All about content marketing with Joe Pulizzi

    14/06/2021 Duração: 52min

    As Stephen Woessner and I teach in our book Sell With Authority, it’s critical for agencies to use content to attract their right fit prospects. When it’s done well and consistently, it can give an agency an unfair advantage over all of their competitors. But what exactly does doing it well mean these days? Author, speaker, and entrepreneur Joe Pulizzi is credited with coining the phrase “content marketing”. His focus is on teaching marketers how they can build a business by being helpful more than relying on more aggressive selling tactics. He brings a lot of passion and enthusiasm for the work that he hopes will inspire your successful game plan. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Joe and I discuss the various aspects of content marketing. We look at how it has changed, what is being done wrong, and the many ways to improve your content strategy. We also discuss exit strategies, the importance of building a community, and new ways to think about niche marketing. A big thank you to our podcast’s pres

  • EP 296: Turn your agency into a content powerhouse with Scott Ginsberg

    07/06/2021 Duração: 01h02min

    Content is the cornerstone of any current agency’s ability to position itself as an authority, but many agencies struggle with knowing exactly how to actually create all the content they need for both their clients and themselves. Where do the ideas come from? What if the ideas seem too big or ridiculous? Is it possible to schedule creativity? How is the content leveraged? Scott Ginsberg is an ultra-prolific creative strategist. He’s written 50 books, released 12 albums of his own original music, produced three films, given over 600 speeches where no two are the same, and he has worn a name tag 24/7 for over 20 years. (Yes, that last one is true.) He knows a thing or two about creating content that connects with audiences and he wants to share his insights with you. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Scott and I have a wide-reaching conversation about creativity, innovation, and content development. We discuss ways to compress time, build an inventory of ideas, reverse engineer content, mentor effecti

  • EP 295: Agency Trends Report 2021 with Drew McLellan

    31/05/2021 Duração: 53min

    To put it mildly, 2020 was a storm none of us saw coming and it lasted for much longer than we expected. Business as usual went out the window and everyone shifted to survival and then re-building mode. Now that we’re moving into a post-pandemic world, let’s explore some of the emerging agency trends that are impacting agencies today and will continue to play a role for the next 12-18 months. I’ve divided the trends into categories like money, clients, agency owners, employees and tactics that are selling and we’ll go through them all, not just looking at the trends but how you can take advantage of them. We’ve seen changes in our relationships with clients and our teams. We’ve been inspired to create new products to serve our partners. We’ve learned a lot about what we can do when forced to rethink everything and now we can use the lessons to create a stronger future for ourselves and our agencies. A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies

  • EP 294: Claim your authority by being a published author with Tony Paustian

    24/05/2021 Duração: 01h02min

    You have a simple choice when it comes to biz dev. You can chase after strangers or you can attract people who are drawn to you because of your expertise. They’ll come to know, like and trust you and when they’re ready to hire an agency, they’ll reach out. One of the best ways to position yourself as an expert is to be a published author. Many agency owners want to position themselves as an expert but can’t imagine how they’d actually write a book. Returning guest Dr. Anthony Paustian owns a hybrid publishing company called BookPress Publishing. Stephen Woessner and I worked with Tony as we wrote and published Sell With Authority and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge for those of you wanting to write your book. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Tony and I tackle the many questions that first-time authors need to consider when developing their book projects. We discuss what authors should look for in publishers, writing coaches, and editors, as well as what to expect from distribution, the fina

  • EP 293: How to manage and communicate our emotions as leaders with Dr. Roger Hall

    17/05/2021 Duração: 55min

    I have repeatedly said that many agency owners have earned an MBA in emotional leadership over the last year and a half. It’s been exhausting, frightening, paralyzing, motivating, inspiring, and, at times, you’re simply doing whatever it takes to survive. You’ve done so with grace, authority, enthusiasm, and vision, but I also know that you’re tired and anxious about what’s coming next. The question becomes, how can we best manage and communicate our emotions for the good of our agency, team, and personal well-being? Author and executive coach Dr. Roger Hall uses his doctorate in psychology to help business owners manage their thinking and in turn, manage their team. His background and expertise has given him insights and tools that we can immediately begin to employ in our emotional leadership. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Dr. Hall and I talk about the emotional challenges many agency owners are currently facing. We explore tools for better monitoring, controlling, and expressing these emotions

  • EP 292: Understanding the gift of doubt in agency leadership with Marc Pitman

    10/05/2021 Duração: 01h04min

    You’ve heard me say it a million times. Most agency owners are accidental business owners. Whatever your agency’s origin story, most of us can remember the moment when we looked around and realized, “This is so much harder than I thought it would be and if I’m being honest – I am winging this.” In the beginning, we’re nervous about admitting our uncertainty but at some point, most agency owners are hungry to learn and willing to admit don’t always have the answer. But what if embracing the doubts we all have is actually a sign of great leadership? Author and executive coach Marc Pitman has spent several decades building his knowledge base around growing strong leaders. His insights not only help agency and business owners become better leaders themselves, but he also shares ways to grow, build, and nurture future leaders throughout an organization. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Marc and I explore a variety of topics surrounding leadership and the need to make peace with your doubts. We discuss ch

  • EP 291: Understanding today’s agency human resources challenges with Molly Eyerman

    03/05/2021 Duração: 54min

    The last year has been one for the books as an agency owner and the HR issues we’ve had to deal with have been off the charts! We’ve faced the pandemic, working from home, layoffs, furloughs, understanding what employee assistance was available for our people and been put in the role of mental health counselor to boot! There’s also been a call to build a more inclusive workforce during a time of incredible racial tensions. All of this has challenged us to truly think about what kind of an employer we want to be. Molly Eyerman owns an HR consulting company that does a lot of work with agencies. She’s here to help us try to figure out how to navigate all of these new challenges so that we can be proud of the way we treat our employees and how we handle some of these hot topic issues in a way that benefits both our team and our clients. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Molly and I discuss a wide range of human resource related topics, including how to best embrace diversity, inclusion, and equality reg

  • EP 290: Vaccine Policy? You can’t avoid having one with Drew McLellan

    26/04/2021 Duração: 44min

    Every agency is going to have a vaccine policy. You have three choices – you can mandate the covid 19 vaccine, you can encourage it or you can take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and in essence, ignore it. But each of those choices is in essence a declaration of how you’re going to handle the question of vaccine in your shop. It will become your policy. Given that truth, you should make a conscious decision and communicate it clearly to your team and clients. I have several agencies who have already had clients and prospective employees ask them a simple question, “is everyone at the agency vaccinated?” How are you going to handle it when you’re asked? I’m obviously not a doctor or scientist but all of the available information indicates that COVID and the discussion around vaccines is going to be a big part of our shared awareness for at least the next few years. With that in mind, it’s important to make it clear where your agency stands on the issue. In this solocast, I’m going to talk through the things

  • EP 289: Embracing the power of influence marketing with Jason Falls

    19/04/2021 Duração: 52min

    We talk about influencer marketing like it’s a hot new trend. That’s not quite right. Celebrity endorsements have been around forever. The difference is that celebrity is defined very differently today. It’s a bit of the wild west and we’ve all heard the horror stories. That’s why many agencies and brands have shied away from influencer marketing. What if you could sidestep the risks while maximizing the credibility and trust that the right influencer can bring to our clients? Jason Falls wrote his latest book Winfluence, Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand, to help agencies re-think this important opportunity. He’s been an agency leader for many years, owned social media properties, and created an influential blog in the marketing space. Jason believes that if we redefine who we think of as an influencer, we can change the game. In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jason and I dig into his version of influence marketing. We discuss how we need to rethink what it means to be an influence

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