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Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

Mar 18, 2020


We talk about "disruption" in business all the time, but we rarely expect disruption to come from the external. The population's reaction to Coronavirus / COVID-19 has disrupted everything including business. Some businesses are being affected in immediate ways, and others will see lagging affects, but no business is immune. Regardless, we know that seasons will come and go. Winter will always come, it will be hard, but the shedding will produce fruit IF we adapt appropriately.

In this special episode we unpack how we are seeing the effects of Coronavirus in our businesses and how we are processing dealing with them. 


Resources Mentioned: 


Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode:

  1. Radically recognize that your business WILL be affected from this situation in some way. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we can go from reacting and surviving to responding and thrivin in this experience (this applies to all times in life, not just a global pandemic). 
    • Slack
    • Basecamp
    • Dropbox
    • Zoom
  2. Maximize your team’s work-from-home productivity with systems and processes, then of course the tools that we all use and love: 
  3. It is vital to seek out balance between what we can control and what we can’t. Don’t live life in fear. Commit to live in abundance and adapt.


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:

[0:35] Bob mentions the Coroniavirus (Covid-19) and refers to his recent article. “We talk a lot about disruption, right… this disruption is coming from the outside that we have no control over this time… It’s not Facebook being disruptive or Apple being disruptive… Let’s discuss how we’re being affected by it, by our clients that are being affected by it.”

[2:13] “Anytime you’re disrupted by anything, it’s hard but it causes you to adapt and that ultimately is a good thing. And so how are we doing that?”

[2:16] Bob: “How are we learning from this? This is a huge lesson that we are being given whether we like it or not.”

[2:24] Brad: “Is this a gift? Is that what you’re saying?” 

[2:41] Bob: “I know that there’s the reality of people dying in pain and there’s a lot of negative things that go along with it. But when it’s all said and done… I think we’ll look back and say wow the Coronavirus was the end of… fill in the blank. And those are the things maybe that we can learn from this and adapt as well.”

[4:32] Ken speaks on the widespread business effects of the virus- tourism, music, restaurants, etc- “But in our world, the agency world, we often operate in the digital world… but our clients maybe not right? So that’s why we’re here today- to talk about we as agency owners can help other businesses that are being affected… And then the other area that might be interesting is Are we being affected right now?”

[5:04] Ken speaks on how it’s important to understand that just because you work in the digital world, or just because you can go remote quickly or easily doesn’t mean that you won’t be impacted. It’s important as a business leader that you are looking ahead. “If we’re not looking ahead, that’s probably very naive and unwise. And so today we want to sort of looking ahead to that.”

[5:44] Brad gives his take and the way his business is being impacted. “I think within the next week or so I’ll begin seeing some immediate effects.” 

  • Currently he can feel some clients scrambling to make changes, to prepare for what is to come. They want to ensure that their business is able to survive, but if that survival include financial cuts in the coming months, how will that impact his business relationship with them? 
  • Brad is asking himself questions about their busienss model- What time of year is their revenue strongest? Is this going to hurt that period of time or the work that we have forecasted for them down the road? 
  • Many scenarios could be played out, but ultimately “Everybody seems to be on a day by day basis.”

[8:00] Brad: “Its really hard to manage a business when you don’t know what tomorrow may look like… it’s a challenging time for clarity. It’s a major challenge for me because I have to be reactive. And I don’t like being reactive, I like being proactive. And there’s a certain level of, you just have to trust that humans are going to figure this out.”

[9:51] Brad: “I don’t fear for my life, but I fear that I could pass it on to somebody else.” 

[10:13] Brad speaks on other financial happenings that will eventually impact every business, regardless of your exposure. The stock market tanking is one example.

[11:32] “I feel like if you could take the financial crash of 2008- 2009 and mix that with Y2K, add some bird flu, add some swine flu… you got this perfect storm.”

[11:46] Bob reflects on the panic surrounding Y2K in the 90’s and relating the very real fear of specific impacts versus the panic about planes falling out of the air and people getting stuck in elevators. This is similar, with people stockpiling toilet paper and creating a panic around that. People have been arrested for claiming to have a cure for the Coronavirus. 

  • “As you walk that middle ground to try to parse what is real and what is not, how do you live above it all?” 

[14:00] Bob asks: “How do I learn from this as a business? How do I survive and not just follow the herd?”

  • Bob shares about Ford vs Ferrari, a movie about Henry Ford and how a large group uniting over common interest led to an intense, fast period of innovation that disrupted an entire industry, all because one man decided it could happen.
  • This is the way that humanity will step up to tackle the vaccination process for Covid-19. 

[16:29] Ken speaks on accepting the reality of the situation and not being resistant to your business changing. Radical acceptance of having NO control or clarity on life is a journey and process that builds strength and resistance to the pains of life over time. 

[20:39] Ken: “The biggest challenge [with older, traditional clients] is cracking through the mindset that this is just how it works. We can’t change… if you’re in that mindset, you’re probably going to be disrupted by this and you will not get out of it until you change that mindset.” 

  • So acceptance is first, then gaining energy out of it is second. Be energized by the fact that now we have to innovate.
  • A lot of good things come in winter, and this is a winter for a lot of people. There is going to be a shedding of things, and space for new growth. 

[24:00] Brad: “I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit as humans, we can figure things out pretty quickly if we need to… like in that movie you were talking about Bob, he probably wasn’t focused on the time constraints, just on focused on the end result.”

  • Brad provides assurance for new agency owners who may be experiencing their first real challenge as a business owner- we will all get through this. We are being sharpened and although that is painful, you will come out wiser for this experience.

[30:35] Ken speaks on the importance of project management tools, to get your workforce at home and safe if possible. 

  • Basecamp for Project Management Communication
  • Slack for messaging internally, as well as about specific clients or internal projects
  • Zoom for video conferencing calls
  • Dropbox for large files

[34:05] Brad mentions GoToMeeting, his company is very comfortable with that as a video call resource.

[35:00] Brad speaks about planning for future projects in your own business. “Just be really thoughtful financially about where you are… every business you’re deciding your next step and what you’re going to invest in… prioritize what’s important in the long run. Also: How do we leverage time? How do we see this as an opportunity to leverage this time in our business?”

  • How do you figure out how to not only survive, but thrive in the midst of this chaos?

[36:04] Ken mentions resources on getting the most out of working from home, including a boo written by the creators of Basecamp. 

[38:00] Bob asks “What are some things you guys know you are going to throw away during this time, and how are you trying to thrive through this?”

[39:45] Ken: “We’re considering how to offer genuine help in genuine ways to businesses that are actually affected… so we’re considering… retail vs online… we may be offering some support for no charge for a little bit.”

  • Perhaps some businesses who didn’t have an online presence prior to this could try during this time to transition over. This won’t be the case for all, but some businesses might view this as an opportunity to diversify. 

[42:59] Bob: “I think there’s going to be a huge boom in virtual reality through this… we may be forced at home in our cocoons, but we have eyes to see more than ever before.” 

[45:34] Brad reflects on technology and the speed of communication having an impact on this situation: “Is it the actual virus or is it the information that is actually traveling faster? You only realize it when something like this happens, just how deeply entwined we are with everyone these days… supply chains in china are impacting our direct daily lives here.” 

[46:41] Brad: “We try not to drive our businesses out of fear, right? But the reality is, is that when stuff like this happens, you realize how much out of control we all kind of are in our businesses that we do have to be reactive.” 

[49:50] Bob talks about how there is a fine line between benefiting from a terrible thing and being opportunistic, but also balancing the reality that we are all humans and all interconnected. It’s important to keep clarity on that fact in the distance as we make day by day decisions that have a rippling impact. 

[52:56] Ken speaks on balance. 

  • Some personalities almost seem to enjoy adversity, because they know that there is immense growth at their fingertips. But having the self control to step back and keep the human element alive in your process of not only surviving but thriving is so important. 
  • Being forced to look yourself in the mirror during these times of stress often brings revelation and growth. Because every other businessperson on the planet is experiencing the same thing, there is an incredible sense of beauty about this time as well.