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Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

Dec 30, 2020


Today we’re looking back on the entire year, reflecting on the themes we chose at the beginning of 2020 before we knew anything about lockdowns and pandemics. We are reflecting on how those themes have played out for each of us this year- even if not in the way that we thought they would. We talk about our journeys through the challenging landscape that Covid-19 has created, and how we plan to approach 2021 through a different lens. Having a spirit of gratitude, a realistic awareness of your privilege, and pure intentions for your business and your customers is a great place to start. We discuss the ways we plan to stay plugged into these new perspectives and how we can move into 2021 with confidence and- dare we say- optimism!


Top 3  Curtain Pulls in this episode: 

  1. Ken’s phrase was “Go Public with Purpose- Even when it’s Hard” and that has been SO applicable to 2020. Often when we have a goal that we want to achieve, we wait for things to be “perfect” to begin- but 2020 has taught us that moving forward is the only way through difficult situations. Perseverance has grown massively through this encouraging phrase. 
  2. Bob’s words were “Transform” and “Leap”- both words that apply to the growth and learning curves that 2020 has thrown our way. In light of having so much forced reflection time due to shutdowns, Bob has managed to transform his own work life into something entirely new, a fresh leap forward into a new role with a new company. 
  3. Finding your center means moving through life with fresh eyes and an open mind- it allows you to be less reactive and more proactive. Spend some time in this final season of 2020 to journal and recognize what you’ve learned from this year, what you want to change, and how you want to move into 2021 with a clearer mind and more open heart. 


For more tips, discussion, and behind the scenes:


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:

[1:51] Bob recalls one of the first episodes from this year, where The Guys discussed what their Word for 2020 would be. This was pre- Coronavirus and pre- Shutdown. 

[2:39] Brad’s word was Clarity. “Covid hit and it just kind of naturally cleared those things up… I got clarity because of Covid in a weird way.” It brought perspective.

  • His new phrase for this year- A New Hope. 
  • He reflects on clarity as it applies to 2020- there was major clarity gained for Brad this year. Priorities were readjusted and the really important things became the focus. 

[5:20] Ken talks about his word for 2020- Go. Metacake’s phrase for 2020 was “Go Public with Purpose, even when it’s Hard.” This has been more true this year than expected. 

  • Throughout the year, this idea was something he looked back at and pulled from- especially during times when he felt the need to hunker down. This phrase has helped to direct the team to perseverance and hope beyond the unknowns in the world. 
  • Sometimes we want things to be perfect before we Go, we wait until things are just so- but in reality if you wait for perfection before you move, you’re losing out on that window of opportunity. It’s good to be wise with your steps, but also sometimes you have to just GO!

[9:26] Bob’s words for 2020 were “Transformation” and “Leap”- change typically means something different, but transform means the core stays the same and morphs into something new and different and hopefully better. 

[11:30] Bob talks about “Leap”-ing to a better position in 2020. He’s with a new agency in a new role, and lots of personal changes have been pleasantly transformational and led to making leaps into a new phase of his life.

[12:50] Brad shares about his feeling of heaviness and mourning this year, how he’s taken a lot of it on and it’s been a process to allow himself to mourn the changes that have occurred globally. His business has done well, but there is a bit of guilt that tinges the sweetness of that result. 

[15:01] Bob talks about the reality of the year- that The Guys may be doing well but that a LOT of people haven’t had it good this year at all. We’ve all experienced that suffering in our lives, and it’s important to keep that in mind and be aware of your position of success. 

[16:04] Ken says that picking a word or intention for the year is more of a strategic move than anything- it will help you to focus and use as a reference point for the difficulties that are bound to come. 

[17:04] Bob talks about a study done by Harvard Business school- those who write down their goals and intentions over their career (30-40 years) are able to trace their success back through those writings. Being intentional about your goals is not just a hokey suggestion- it is backed by real science and proven by success in the business world! 

[18:03] Ken asks “Would you take 2020 back if you could?” 

[18:22] Brad and Bob both say absolutely not! Brad adds that the learning he’s done this year has grown him in ways that he never would have grown otherwise. He learned things about himself in Quarantine alone that he would never trade- “I think we’ve all been pushed to the point where you kind of get to understand who you really are and what the inner priorities in your life are.” 

[20:26] Brad talks pent-up energy in 2020 that is going to burst forward in 2021. Ecommerce alone has changed so much, faster than it would have otherwise. And that has lead to innovation and growth in entirely new ways. 

[22:04] Ken talks about the difficulty breeding growth for him personally and how it forced him to grow in a lot of ways. He talks about having permission to remove himself from the mundane routine that he had gotten used to- this year gave him permission to get out of that routine. 

[24:29] Bob talks about how this disruption has been great for humanity in general- historically, there is something in every generation that causes a reset in priorities and increased resiliency. This will be studied for years to come due to the technology and how massively things have shifted. 

[26:31] Ken isolates the difference between a good leader and someone who maybe doesn’t accomplish as much as a leader-  good leaders look at how we’re going to transform instead of just complaining about how bad things are. “At some point, you have to put that behind you.” 

[26:50] Brad talks about how fortunate America is as a whole, our economy was strong at the beginning of this. So even though every business essentially shut down for a while, our stock market kept momentum and some financial excitement was created. 

  • The sad part of the privilege of being American is that we are so quick to forget history that we often don’t learn our lesson the first time around. Brad expresses his fear of losing sight of what he’s learned. 

[29:21] Ken suggests creating things that will be reminders going forward- things like keeping a journal solely for the purpose of recording your learnings. It helps you stay reminded of what you’ve learned and how far you’ve come, the lessons you’ve learned along the way and the mistakes you made that taught you these things. 

[32:10] Brad shares that he did keep a journal while he had Covid, purely to keep track of his experience for future children or grandchildren, etc. Over time the stories will likely be embellished, etc so it’s nice to have a real documentation of what it was like for him. 

[33:08] Brad wants to carve out more time for himself to be Quiet.

[33:49] Bob talks meditation, breathing, and prayer. 2020 has given him more time and space to do this for himself, and it’s been enormously powerful and transformative. 

[34:41] Brad worked on cultivating quietness for himself- 20 minutes of silence is difficult! It’s not just clearing out your thoughts, but also your emotions. 

[36:29] Ken says that especially in the agency world- having boundaries and barriers with clients can be so challenging. Making time for yourself and protecting that time is enormously valuable. Ken also starts the year off with a fast to clear his mind and emotions. 

[37:44] Bob talks about how these efforts at quieting your mind and emotions helps you to realize how truly out of control your are of your life and the events that take place- you don’t realize how little control you have of your thoughts. 

[38:30] Bob continues: “I need to get back in control and centered of my own life… if I can’t do that for myself, I think I’m walking around unconsciously asleep, being controlled by my own money mind in my business with my family and my relationships… it’s really just releasing that.” 

[38:55] Brad “When you start doing that, you really think of yourself as a prisoner to some degree of our society, of time, of stuff, of demands, of noises…” The amount of interruption we have in our life is truly incredible! Awareness of this is SO important. 

[39:32] Ken “If you’re not aware of it already, you’re just a slave to it.” 

[40:58] Bob talks about a phrase coined by a local therapist Jenny Black. The phrase “Media Trauma” is a very real thing- trauma from the internet is very real and important to acknowledge. 

  • An example is the Boston Marathon bombing- people who saw that happen on their phones were more traumatized than those who were actually there. There is something that happens when your body experiences trauma- feeling like you can jump in and do something about it, or run away from it is very powerful for the brain. If you’re watching something happen there is nothing you can do, no support you can offer. And so it is just pure trauma. 

[43:32] Brad suggests that there will be trends towards getting off social media for periods of time- it tends to numb us and eventually social media devalues itself. He asks- what would happen if there was a worldwide trend to give up social media to the point that digital agencies are now feeling the hit of that drawback. 

[44:23] Ken says Metacake has had these discussions a lot but never on the podcast- digital marketing is changing and there will be some mass disruption inside of it eventually. Truly, the platform shouldn’t matter. 

  • Digital marketing has become platform marketing, so the question is how do we move backwards from here so that we can stay viable and serve future clients and customers in the best way possible. 

[45:39] Brad asks for any predictions in 2021.

[45:51] Bob says that we will feel the fallout from 2020, that things will be better than 2020 but the true aftermath of Covid-19 hasn’t revealed itself yet. 

[46:56] Ken says that the opportunity that has been created is the most exciting thing for him- there will be even more opportunity in 2021.

[47:43] Brad predicts 2021 as the year of Bitcoin. 

[48:25] Ken circles back around to the future of agencies in 2021- the position we see our businesses and how marketing fits into that.