Feb 5, 2020
Bob Hutchins, Brad Ayres, and Ken Ott are talking about how to innovate, grow and serve fast-growing clients in an agency world that is both ever-changing and also static. Hyper-growth is idealized, but the truth is scale isn’t always good. You need healthy scale. How do you help businesses see the forest through the trees? How do you inspire some to think bigger? How do you get clients who are moving too fast to slow down and pay attention to what will create healthy growth? There is a delicate balance to establishing a strong, influential role with a client, regardless of the type of business they are in.
Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode:
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:
[1:26] Bob asks: "There's this new business model of failing fast and scaling quick and getting stuff out. It seems like the fastest wins. What does that mean for agencies who try to lead that charge?"
[1:56] Brad: “we do have clients that are over a hundred years old… they built such a strong legacy, but they can’t move as fast as they need to.”
[2:49] “So they’re looking at acquiring companies who could scale faster.”
[3:17] “We can talk more about how, as an agency, how you can prepare your infrastructure, and your processes to move that quickly and to understand that things pivot. And sometimes that’s really hard.”
[3:39] Bob asks Ken: How have quick pivots and “failing fast” impacted Metacake and their clients?
[4:05] Ken: “We preach innovation to our clients because ultimately, that is something that is never urgent and always important.... Innovation needs to happen whether you’re a big company or a small company.”
[5:34] Ken: “Just because other people are doing it [innovating] doesn’t mean you should be doing it NOW, but you should be doing it, you just have to figure out when.”
[6:46] “Just like people have personalities, agencies and businesses have personalities. Knowing what your strength is is important.”
[7:30] Brad: “We have companies that we lead, and companies that we serve. The fear with companies that we serve is that we become a commodity… if we’re not leading and innovating they won’t work with us… and sometimes they’re just not a good fit.
[8:45] “Even those companies that don’t give you a seat at the table… maybe you can still add table value by indirectly giving them suggestions and helping them to ‘see the beach’.”
[9:05] Ken: “Even in a role of service… the way you avoid becoming a commodity is by being a really great advisor to them… We work with viral entrepreneurs as well as global brands. With those global brands they need to be led with innovation, with those viral entrepreneurs we want to advise wisely.”
[10:13] Brad speaks on having a strong understanding of your client and being aligned with them and an extension of their leadership.
[12:10] “How as an agency do you follow the culture of a client when they are averse to pivoting, change?”
[12:45] Ken “Even an industry that your agency doesn't have experience in, the reason that you’re brought on it because you do have a speciality in some other area… if you don’t have that, maybe you shouldn’t be there… but you should be able to use your specialty to push that innovation.”
[13:27] Bob: “I think a good agency… gets over those humps is with data.”
[14:30] Ken: “that implies that you’re investing in acquiring data… could mean getting experience outside of client work. Being in eCommerce, we have several product companies that we run the stores of and so we can learn from them.”
[15:56] Brad: “You’ve got to be open to agile testing…. You've got to be able to think outside of the box and
[28:00] Brad: “... one of our clients… only works his business plan 3 months out. That’s it. And what he told me is that he’s going to pivot if he has to… either you’re with him and you are running right beside that pivot, or you’re going to get left behind.”
[29:05] “In this case, this individual knows exactly where his business is going… and how does an agency support somebody like him that is running that fast?”
[30:15] Brad: “Some clients want to make money TODAY, and some… care about their market share and they want to be leaders in their market… they’ll have a technology that noone else has.”
[30:40] Bob: “How do you get your staff to see and to develop that mindset [of quick pivots and change] when they might be people who are creatives or they’re perfectionsists… that you need to function well.”
[31:45] Ken: “In this type of example where companies are moving fast and you as a founder may not even realize what their full vision is.”
[34:50] Brad: “For us, #1, I think constantly talking about business practices with your team...allows them to go Okay there’s multiple ways to get a business off the ground.”
[36:00] So even if we do pivot, it’s all about communicating… that our goal is not just to serve a customer, it’s to see that customer’s objective met and their business objective met… trying to bring value to that leadership and have a seat at that table.”
[37:00] Bob asks: What do you guys feel like the value is for Agencies moving forward in the near future, in the next five years, 10 years? Because I think what we’re talking about is everybody's moving at the speed of light.
[37:43] Ken: “I think it’s experience and driving results… if you look at the trajectory, you’ve got agencies that were hired in to do everything and they were responsible for figuring out how to do this thing. Everything from strategy to implementation.”
[41:00] Brad: “For us, learning to balance the bent towards perfectionism is a challenge… we want really high-end success and I think that’s why we’ve kept a lot of clients.”
[42:50] Bob reflects: “In the past, it was a liability (putting out a less-than-perfect product)... so now if you release something that is a little bit imperfect just to get it out there, you have more room to improve and shift the focus later on.”
[45:37] Brad: “What Elon Musk has done is he’s created a culture, not only with his company, but the brand and his loyalists that say ‘I’m going to be first, but you’re going to have to give a little time. Forgive me, cause we’re not going to hit it. You’re not going to hit a home run every time, but I’m going to get you on third base and then we’ll sneak in into homebase and we’ll get it fixed.”
[54:03] Ken: “Don’t blitz scale or innovate or feel like you have to be a high risk taker just for the sake of doing it because these other companies do it. What you really need to figure out is what is the why behind where they need to go and where you need to go.”
[55:50] Brad “Sometimes educating your client on the lifetimes values of your customers so that we’re no here just to make a dollar today, but we’re actually looking at the future of your lifetime value and going okay we’ll spend money right now to acquire a customer because we know that the lifetime value is X, and you’re going to make that up in a year from now.”
[57:40] Brad: “The customer needs to know that you’re running with them and you’re right next to or right beside them. Otherwise you don't’ have a seat at their table. And if you can’t get a seat at their table, it’s really hard to convince your clients to do anything.”