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Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

Apr 14, 2021


Last week’s episode was all about preparing for the next downturn- today we’re flipping the script. How do you prepare for good times? How do you prepare to bring about good times? And when those good times come how do you MAXIMIZE them and not squander them. As a business leader, complacency and lack of intentionality are a dangerous combination. Don’t lose sight of the discipline you developed during the hard times, because it will help fuel investment and create something of REAL value far into the future! 


Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode: 

  1. Provide a story to communicate value. This starts with the sales pitch. Prepare your pitch to cater to these fears you know your clients are feeling- acknowledge the risk, and tell them where they can safely invest for growth well into the future.
  2. Come out of the Bunker! The unpredictability of business can feel like war. Know when it’s time to come out of your bunker and take a look at how you can invest for the future. Don’t let your fear of the future stall your business growth.
  3. Systematize your Processes! This is just one way of leveraging scale in your business- and it is particularly important during times of disruption when turnover is high. Systematizing your processes now means having a plan for the future. 


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:

[1:48] Bob welcomes us to this week’s episode. Last week’s topic was a bit negative- we talked about what business looks like in a bear market. This week we’re talking about how you can maximize in good times to prepare for the inevitable bad times. 

[2:47] Ken asks about the trajectory of business over the last year. Are profits back to normal? Over where they were before? Worse overall? 

  • Brad’s agency, Anthem, has been steady all year long. They did some preparation right at the start of Covid and cut extra expenses. They leaned up early on, and so now a year later their profits are actually above where they were in pre-Covid 2020. 

[4:09] Bob’s agency is larger, and even they have stayed steady through Covid. He’s seen medium to bigger sized companies loosening up and coming out of a sense of fear about spending and new initiatives. 

[5:06] Ken talks about how 2020 was definitely unpredictable, but something changed in 2021. “The challenge is that you need to stay in a lean mindset and also a forward-thinking mindset.” 

[6:57] Ken offers his thoughts about a post-covid world. Ultimately, the Covid numbers don’t matter in that there is no real way to move back to the “old way” of life. 

[7:40] Brad thinks that by year’s end we’ll be moving back to having concerts and getting together in larger groups- this stimulation of the economy will provide even more positivity and hope for things to get “back to new normal.” 

[8:09] Ken speaks about the psychological challenge that lay ahead for marketers in the travel industry (and other industries that have been severely impacted by the pandemic)- those people have been traumatized, we all have. So those marketers have a particularly large challenge in that they have to make people feel safe enough to purchase. 

[9:36] Brad thinks that the sign that fear is going down will be that the masks appear less and less. Fear is a powerful driver for the economy, but as we stand firmly in the “Post-COVID” reality that fear will dissipate. 

  • “After the last recession, what I learned is that as quickly as things go down, things pick up as well.” 

[11:09] Brad asks if there is anything that Ken and Bob are doing in 2021 to capitalize on the pick-up that the economy is sure to experience in the coming years. 

[11:59] Bob provides some historical context, as always. “Anytime that there was either an urgency, a war, pandemic, new technology, societies benefited from that in ways that for those who have eyes to see it can really benefit from it.”

  • “And I think… people being forced online, I think it's cemented ecommerce into the psyche of the world... I don't think we're going to have to convince anyone to get on board with digital marketing and e commerce moving forward.”

[16:14] Ken talks about the danger of complacency and not having awareness of your actions. Things may be good now, but don’t lose your disciplined mindset that you developed when things weren’t so good. “I think if you can keep your discipline, but also keep your focus and passion on what you're supposed to be doing… utilize the good times as the fuel to invest and make things even better… then you have the opportunity to create something of real value.” 

[17:11] Brad asks the guys “What are some things that you feel are on the horizon where agencies can position themselves to take advantage of this additional swell of business?” 

[17:44] Bob repeats a mantra that we talk about often here on Agency Exposed. In business, you’re either the cheapest, the best, or the only. “These are the times- the good and prosperous times- where you can start figuring out how to become the Only… you’ll have the resources, the time, the money, and the technology available at your fingertips to potentially figure that out.” 

[18:30] Brad says that by the time fall rolls around and the holidays are upon us, we’ll have a much better image of what the economy actually looks like. And even then, we won’t know those final numbers until January or February. This is representative of the lag indicators in our economy. 

[19:05] We talk about unemployment numbers and how they’re still low, overall. 

[19:58] Ken talks about innovation, and how it is the most important thing to focus on when things are good. This actually places digital agencies in a great position, because moving forward in the ecommerce space is at the top of that innovation list. 

[22:37] Bob talks about companies coming to him frustrated with inaccurate attribution due to the stack of software they’re working with. “What you’re going to see is those companies pulling money back and putting it somewhere else… we need to be prepared to say here’s where you can put that money- into telling good stories, into more accurate attribution than other platforms.” 

[23:16] Brad says that providing a story behind attribution is VITAL when talking to your clients- not just the numbers but how they played out. They need to understand that their ROAS isn’t just about analytics, there’s a lot more to the picture. 

[24:32] Bob adds to Brad’s point, saying that it’s more of an investment in time and talent into the top and middle of the funnel. 

[25:47] Ken asks, “What would you guys invest in inside of your business, if things were really really good right now?” 

[26:32] Brad says sales and developing strong leads via personal connections and relationships. 

[28:46] Ken talks about how trauma puts you in a protective stance. “I focus so much mental energy into trying to condition myself to be able to make quick decisions despite things that have happened.” 

[29:18] Brad makes the analogy that surviving the past year for some has felt akin to war. We’ve been holed up in our bunker and don’t even know that the shellings have stopped and we are almost safe to go out and grow and invest again. He still feels like it’s not quite safe. 

[31:01] Bob “I would invest in R&D on the measurement and CRO side. That continues to be the main thing that people struggle with.” He knows there will be a gap in knowledge for a lot of businesses, because they’re so used to automation and Facebook-style marketing efforts. And that’s where we as agency leaders come in and fill in that gap.

[33:16] Ken says that diversifying revenue streams is the most important thing for him. If you’re not actively doing it, at least do the R&D to know where you may diversify. 

[35:12] Bob says that systematizing your processes is another great place to invest. Because turnover is one of the first issues that happens for many businesses during hard times, having systems in place to quickly train new people or new roles can make a world of difference. 

[36:18] Ken talks about systematizing as a way of leveraging scale in your business. You can scale people if you know how to slot them into those processes. 

[42:49] Brad talks about project management tools like Asana that allow you to create video snippets that help introduce new hires more easily. This is much more palatable for people to take in than a stack of papers. 

[47:49] Brad continues, saying that stored value of a company is creating an engine that is run by processes that can be filled by people in an efficient way. Having distinct processes inside of your business means that there is inherent value in what it offers, not just a strong relationship with one person in your organization.