Apr 8, 2020
Disruption is fast becoming a theme of our daily lives. As we seek out information to make decisions that will impact our businesses, it is more important now than ever to be in communication with our clients. To not only have a seat at the table, but to be taking charge of those relationships and offering stability to our clients in this time of incredible uncertainty. Brian DeMarco has been through the wringer of uncertainty in his life- and he has taken that willingness to adapt into the agency realm as well. In today’s episode we’re diving into the opportunity to deepen relationships during this time of crisis.
Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode:
About our Guest:
He’s an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, a retired NFL player, and now an agency owner. He’s built two multimillion dollar businesses in both the physical therapy and fitness industries, and now he’s with the fast-growing marketing agency DRAFTR, where they serve clients like Uber, Universal Music, Ram trucks, and Easterseals. Based in Austin, Texas and joining us via Zoom call, we are so thrilled to welcome Brian DeMarco to the Podcast!
About The Guys:
Bob Hutchins: Founder of BuzzPlant, a digital agency that he ran from from 2000 -2017. He is also the author of 3 books. More on Bob:
Brad Ayres: Founder of Anthem Republic, an award-winning ad agency. Brad’s knowledge has led some of the biggest brands in the world. Originally from Detroit, Brad is an OG in the ad agency world and has the wisdom and scars to prove it. Currently that knowledge is being applied to his boutique agency. More on Brad:
Ken Ott: Co-Founder and Chief Growth Rebel of Metacake, an Ecommerce Growth Team for some of the world’s most influential brands with a mission to Grow Brands That Matter. Ken is also an author, speaker, and was nominated for an Emmy for his acting on the Metacake Youtube Channel (not really). More on Ken:
[1:00] Bob introduces this week’s guest, Brian DeMarco. “He’s an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and he’s also a retired NFL player. He’s built two multimillion dollar businesses in both the physical therapy and fitness industries, and now with the fast growing market agency Draftr, where they serve clients like Uber, Universal Music, Ram trucks, Easterseals, on and on. He lives outside of Austin, Texas- Brian, welcome to Agency Exposed!”
[3:00] Brian gives context for building his company. Coming out of the NFL he had a severe spinal injury that resulted in fractures in 17 places and 90% loss of function in his right leg. By ‘05 the injuries had gotten worse and worse.
[7:05] Brian: “What I loved was the strategy behind building a brand and building community around a brand that was meaningful… I very passionately was just in it every day and building this up, so when the time came around and we got to a certain point, it was obvious that it was just time for me to go.”
[7:51] Brian continues: “I knew all the things that I didn’t like about agencies, I didn’t like the fact that they would never work with me to talk about revenue, using revenue for KPI, for what was being built on the marketing side. So these tough conversations that not many agencies want to have, but that all went into the building of Draftr Media.”
[9:22] Bob asks Brian about what life is like for Draftr amidst the current shift in the world with Covid-19.
[9:38] Brian reflects on the initial shockwave that everyone had to deal with, and the process of reassuring clients that they could go on.
[11:38] Brian continues: “Relatively speaking, it’s easy to be a leader or a CEO when the market is just absolutely booming and you can do no wrong. It’s difficult to lead in times like this, when we’re in a massive trial in our lives, the entire nation. This is when it’s hard to lead, but it’s most certainly needed.”
[12:15] Brian: “There’s no way to sugarcoat this, it’s decimating a large part of our economy for now. But you have to have the courage to look boldly at the future and be determined to win.”
[13:49] Ken responds: “Whether you’re coaching and leading clients or you’re leading your own team- you’re going through something too. And you’d be naive to think that it doesn’t affect you… this is not a passing thing that just goes away. You can’t just hunker down for four weeks and hope that it goes away.”
[14:35] Ken continues: “I believe the better approach is what you said, to assume that this is the new way or a portion of this is, and if you’ve got to do business that way, how can we figure out how to do business that way and thrive. It’s not easy- if it were easy, everyone would do it.”
[14:55] Brian: “That’s why you see brands, like I Heart, stepping up with the concerts and people are going to remember the brand that stepped up during this time to provide them something- entertainment. The one advantage is that people are now walking to the internet in droves to socialize, to be entertaining, to educate, which is another interesting side component of this time… we can educate our kids from home. Our school systems fell in line, our kids are learning. You kind of saw the writing on a wall with schools as we knew them, growing up.”
[16:15] Brad asks Brian: “Tell me some of the things that you’re doing with your agency that are practical that other agencies maybe can glean from it and actually do themselves as well, whether they’re large or small agencies.”
[16:35] Brian speaks on his efforts to “run lean” and never lose the startup mentality as far as resources and spending are concerned. They’ve had to ask themselves where they can pull back where it won’t impact clients- extracurriculars for staff, parties, etc.
[19:05] Bob presents: “There may be a temptation to take on clients out of desperation, to take what you can get to backfill things you’ve lost. And I think there’s some wise counsel here.”
[19:57] Brian affirms that there is a shift that is happening for companies without a vision. For so long it was easy for people to throw ads up on Facebook and call themselves an agency. He suggests:
[21:55] Ken adds: “For the last 10 years or so, anyone can throw up a website and get clients… and no one will know the difference. Experience is really being undervalued.”
[24:52] Brad adds to Ken’s point- “What you’re talking about is, Is your business a commodity or is there something unique about your business that is harder to find? And so a lot of these, if you build your business around a commodity, then you’re just competitive in price. But if you build your business around something greater than that, where you’re the best or the only, then you’re a lot more valuable.”
[27:15] Brian responds: “From that standpoint, when we position ourselves early with the brands that we’re working with, that we’re really integrated.”
[29:25] Brad: “I’ve heard old war veterans say there’s no bond like those that you go to battle with on the front lines.”
[31:13] Brian quotes Henry Ford: “Those that try to save money by stopping marketing are those that stop a clock to save time.”
[34:32] Brian: “We did this with our team, having very real and candid conversations… I didn’t want them working from a place of panic.”
[34:50] Bob asks what Ken and Brad have done to be proactive in their own offices.
[35:02] Ken responds: “We’ve talked about this a lot, acting from a place of fear… this produces horrible results every time.”
[40:00] Brian adds that helping your clients with their perspective is valuable as well. Perspective on other difficult times when you’ve made it through and excelled.
[41:05] Bob speaks on previous podcast episodes: “We talked about funds, do you keep a years funding in the bank, how prepared are you truly to lead?”
[42:31] Brian speaks on the good that will come from this: “The folks that truly understand what it means ot build a brand will be the ones that last through this.”
[44:59] Brad recalls a message from Mark Cuban, who says that he was talking about how after this is all over, he sees our country exploding with new innovation and ideas and energy just because we’re all pent up and we’re all excited and it’s like after a war is finished- our economy will rise.
[46:00] Brian agrees, and tells a story about a recent discussion with a partner. He asked his client at the beginning of a meeting to just sit in stillness for a few minutes to assess his feelings and thoughts.
[48:07] Brian asks how we will be impacted by this, as our grandparents were impacted by the Great Depression. Will we hoard toilet paper the way they hoarded canned goods and buried their money in the backyard?
[50:05] Ken adds: It’s important during this time to be present, to value the time you have on your hands. It is more valuable than most things in life, so don’t let this pass with you just holding your breath waiting for it to be over.
[52:25] Brian: “You’re dealing with a fundamental human problem, and for a lot of folks, the fear is paralyzing. So this will be a time where the truly smart agencies will rise to the top.”
[53:30] Ken asks one final question: “What are some things from your football days that was ingrained into you that you use when leading and running your agency these days?”
[55:38] Brian shares a piece of advice from a former coach of his, “I’ll trade an ounce of athleticism for an ounce of integrity any day” and “United together with a singleness of purpose.”