Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

Jun 17, 2020


While we certainly don’t have solutions for all the issues we face, we know that we are ALL facing similar issues. So, we discuss them openly as well as our current strategies for dealing with them. One big issue is the slow down in B2B purchasing (i.e. agency services). Most companies just aren’t starting new projects, even in the most thriving industries. The uncertainty has caused a hesitation in the face of thriving business at times. While this certainly won’t last, what can you do to create certainty and close new business? These situations don’t mean that your business has to suffer. We know getting your discussion and sharing is one of the quickest paths to finding solutions. Today’s episode covers several topics as we see how the myriad of current events affect business. We talk products, lead flow, how to speed up accounts receivables, and more. 


Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode: 

  1. The universe has a painful, but fundamental truth - there HAS to be pruning in order for growth to happen. “Constant growth is cancer… pruning is painful, but it produces more fruit.” This won’t be forever, but use whatever pain you are experiencing to improve your product.
  2. There is incredible need for agency expertise right now- convincing clients to go online may present certain challenges, but Ken shares Metacake’s strategy for these reservations- 1) Planting educational seeds that will create thoughtful relationships and 2) Innovating your product offerings to suit new client needs. 
  3. Implement electronic automatic payment plans for your agency - the idea of real-time, electronic payments seem revolutionary for agencies, yet the rest of the world has operated this way for decades. Now is the best time to start. Ultimately, waiting for payment or chasing payments is a distraction on both ends - the relationships will be stronger and your output will be better when payment issues are removed. 


For more tips, discussion, and behind the scenes:


Connect with us:

  • Connect with Ken at ken AT
  • Connect with Brad at bayres AT
  • Connect with Bob at bobwhitchins AT


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: 


Show Notes:

[1:15] Bob intros new series about current events and how they may or may not apply to everyday life or business. 

[1:50] Brad speaks about the happenings in his hometown of Detroit in recent weeks. With the BLM movement spurring peaceful and not-so-peaceful protests around the country, he takes a moment to reflect on people around him who are participating. 

[3:20] Ken talks about the same in his hometown of Queens. “I feel like the world is groaning in a lot of ways, I think you see that with race issues, with Covid-19… There will always be problems, but there will always be good that comes out of these problems.”

  • This will pass, and we should all seek to learn from it and become better versions of ourselves. 

[5:31] Bob reflects on the writings of philosopher Phyllis Tickle, who believes that you can see a pattern of massive shifts in civilizations every 500 years, and that’s where we are right now. 

[6:15] Ken talks about the fundamental foundations of the cycles of life- they exist on long-term, short-term, daily scales. This is a part of the way that we learn more about business as well as life. 

  • “Constant growth is cancer… pruning is painful, but it produces more fruit… as painful as that pruning is… in business there has to be a pruning in order to rise above the challenges.” 

[8:23] Brad talks about how that pruning is super painful when it comes to business- letting people go who are not truly in line with your company ethos. 

[9:05] Bob: “As we’ve been looking at the markets… talking about what does it mean to close deals and stay alive and pivot… there is some counterintuitive growth happening, the markets are up, employment is up… Brad what do you make of that?” 

[9:57] Brad speaks about how employment numbers are up, which is surprising but comforting. “I think that consumers haven't lost their confidence, mainly because there hasn’t been a big enough pinch yet… extra unemployment runs out in July, so people have the means to survive. If we get enough jobs through the summer, I think we’ll be okay.” 

[11:32] Bob asks Ken about the numbers from HubSpot. 

[11:50] Ken: Stresses the reason this podcast was created in the first place- to peel back the veil behind business and agency ownership. Now is as good a time as ever to be really transparent about these things. 

  • Hubspot released data this week that the upward trend in closing deals has gone down again. 
  • “Businesses have been slower to act- consumers not so much.” New deals, new campaigns, etc on a business end is more risky than a single purchase as a consumer right now. 
  • Knowing what your specialty is and being able to zero in on what you can bring to the table and how you can provide value is enormously important right now. 

[15:17] Bob asks about deals they have worked on or closed in the last month. Were they started before Covid, as a result of Covid, etc? 

[15:19] Ken responds that most of them are currently a response to Covid. “In our experience, the situation has created an awareness of a problem or an opportunity that they need to go after, so our inquiries have been up.”

[16:40] Brad asks what sort of questions people are asking. 

[17:00] Ken says that many have intuitions or instincts that there is opportunity that they should be going after, and they want to see that through. With the world telling them that they shouldn’t be taking risks, it can be a challenge to get people to act on that intuition.

[17:50] Bob adds that there are also a lot of people who realize that ecommerce is important and are just now looking into it, only to realize the expense involved and the work that is required. 

[18:35] Ken: Speaks about his direct experience talking with companies who have not made the move to fully invest in ecomm- suddenly the “website guy” is the most powerful person in the room and budget is being allocated to them and they don’t want to mess up that opportunity. So there is a lot of trepidation and information-collecting. 

[19:15] Bob: Asks Ken about how to educate people on the importance of ecommerce and building a strong strategic foundation online. 

[19:40] Ken talks about Metacake’s 2-part strategy for education. 

  • 2-part strategy: 
    • “First, investing in helping and educating.” Planting seeds. 
    • “The second part is innovating our product.”
  • Metacake gets a LOT of inquiries from new business owners who don’t have capital or any way to invest. So there is a deep need for free/affordable education that creates value in their businesses. 

[21:50] Brad asks what percent of inquiries are new business versus established business. 

[21:55] Ken responds that it’s a 70/30 split, with 70% being new businesses and 30% being established businesses. 

[23:30] Ken continues speaking about services vs purpose. It’s so important that businesses aren’t based on the services that you provide, but the value that you’re offering and the purpose that you’re serving. 

[25:45] Brad speaks about the pain of hearing from a great business that simply can’t afford the services you offer, and how it has become a mission for Anthem to create products that can meet people in whatever level they’re at, whatever they’re able to afford. 

[26:30] Ken: There’s a big risk as well in making a product affordable. There’s a risk of cheapening the value of what you’re offering if you don’t charge enough. This may result in setting the customer up for not succeeding, which hurts the relationship long-term as well as the business. 

[28:05] Ken: “There are 3 types of people- my money for me, my money for somebody else, somebody else’s money for me, or somebody’s money for somebody else.” 

  • The last one is the “easiest” to deal with, as the project is less emotional and the spending is less emotional. Being aware of this is important when selling. 

[29:00] Bob: “It’s better to make the client uncomfortable in the beginning so that you can guarantee success, versus taking what they have and not being sure if you can be successful from that amount.” 

  • Making these decisions comes with time and experience. 

[31:03] Brad speaks about being uncomfortable when clients aren’t getting their money’s worth in the services he is offering. Sometimes it is simply best for them to work with a different company, whether that be due to the product or other factors. 

[31:16] Ken adds that agencies often tend to take on things that they can’t control. “Success is doing what you said you would at a very high level… sometimes that mean you can produce an end result that dramatically affects their business, that’s great.” 

  • It’s important to really define what success means to you and to your client, because your definition of success might not be measured by the same metrics.

[32:40] Bob says that if you don’t get that definition of success clear in the beginning, more than 50% of the time your definition is different from theirs.

[33:45] Ken talks about how it takes a really specific personality type to do this well and consistently ingrain it into the relationship. 

[34:45] Bob: Break that success down into weekly, monthly, yearly increments so that you have built-in benchmarks for measuring that and touching base about it. 

[35:45] Brad talks about Anthem’s sales philosophy. They do have strong funnels developed for cold calls but most of the business he’s been in has been based on a relationship with another human. More recent leads that have been coming in have not required “game playing” to understand whether they are a good fit or not. 

[38:57] Brad continues talking about “tire kickers” or potential clients who are asking a lot of questions without taking business seriously. This leads to a lot of investment of time and energy- but recently with the Covid 19 pandemic, there are less tire kickers around. 

[40:00] Bob asks if there are potential clients who are sitting on contracts and “stalling.” 

[41:02] Brad talks about the “sticky situation” of having loyal clients that are not able to pay on time during this time. When there is no communication from them even though the relationship is strong, it’s hard to know how to draw that line. 

[42:25] Ken talks about how ultimately this is a situation that comes down to respect. “We do largely electronic payment, and this is the number one reason why.” Payment scheduled that is agreed upon in advance. “If there is a situation that comes up, let us know.” 

[45:04] Ken continues: “It benefits both sides when you don’t have to worry about that… it’s a distraction, right? If you’re worrying about how you pay your bills, and you have to go chase people… that’s all a bunch of mental energy and physical energy that you can’t put into your projects.” 

[48:27] Brad: “We do spend more time than we need to chasing money, and asking and trying to get our invoices paid…”

[48:58] Ken talks about invoicing and how the idea of monthly scheduled payments are revolutionary but really shouldn’t be. We don’t walk into restaurants, eat, then tell them to send us an invoice 30 days later. 

  • There is a technology barrier that makes this sort of payment process easy but not specifically for agencies. 

[50:40] Ken talks about having a mentor tell him that the agency “style” of floating large payments for 30, 60, 90 days at a time is old and outdated- and ultimately people simply couldn’t make their business last. 

[51:21] Bob chimes in that as your business grows, the danger of that increases. “In today’s volatility… your clients and yourself could be $100K or one $50K invoice away from closing your doors.”

[52:05] Ken talks about how it’s not so much a pat on the back but this is a large pain point for so many, and finding a solution at ground-level to prevent that from snowballing out of control has always been priority. “There is old culture and tradition that had to be broken away… simple technology issues… why are agencies not in the 21st century?” 

  • More businesses doing transactions in a different way allows other to see how that they’re allowed to do that as well- helps entire industry in the end, as more healthy businesses are created to do business with.