[00:00:00] drew: Today, I'm joined by Drew McLellan. Welcome, Drew. Thanks for having me. I'm excited for the conversation. Me too.
[00:00:22] corey: So, would you mind just sharing a little bit about, who you are, your background and the work
[00:00:26] drew: you do?
my name is Drew McLellan and I own Agency Management Institute, which is an organization That acknowledges that most agency owners are accidental business owners. They're super great at the client facing stuff, but the business side of the business is not typically what they went to school for.
They just found themselves, sometimes by hook or crook, all of a sudden they look around and they go, Oh my gosh, I'm running an agency. Sometimes it was more deliberate than that, but in many cases, they just sort of grew something organically, and next thing they know they have 10 employees, and they're worried about HR issues and finance and...
It's just not their background. And so our job is to help them run the business of their business better. And we do that through a variety of ways from owner peer groups to public workshops, a podcast that we've been doing for about eight years. And everyone at a m i, myself included, is a seasoned agency owner who has owned their agency for, at least successfully, for at least 15 years, and has been inside the a m I ecosystem, so knows all of the KPIs, the best practices that we teach for at least a decade.
So that's kind of how we're structured
[00:01:35] corey: specifically that the, the folks who have the 15 years of experience agencies are the, the instructors, the folks who are involved in the curriculum and the programming.
[00:01:44] drew: Yep, so my wife and I own the business and we do a lot of, a lot of the face work, a lot of the workshop teaching, the facilitation of peer groups, but we do have some other agency owners that teach some of the workshops for us, facilitate some of the peer groups, and they're all what I think of as AMI veterans.
[00:02:02] corey: And just for context for listeners who may not be familiar with AMI, how many agencies do you work with? You know, how long has AMI been in business, kind of more just sort of, yeah,
[00:02:12] drew: metrics about the business. So, AMI was started in the late 90s and, I was actually a very young agency owner and was an early client, one of the first clients.
And, back then it was, you know, a couple peer groups in a workshop. It was very small. so back then it was probably served 50 agency owners and agencies. and had a very U. S. centric. Today, we serve, you know, just in workshops and peer groups, probably about a thousand agencies a year.
and do a lot of international work coaching and other things, with agencies all over, all over the globe. So, I bought it about 15 years ago. So, the founder, who was a former agency owner, said to me, You know what, I'm ready to retire. I think you're the guy. It was a weird moment in my time, so I'm a single dad, or I was before I got remarried, and my daughter was getting ready to go to college, and I knew that life was not going to be the same, and I was looking for something to sort of sink my teeth into and, you know, really focus on rather than, you know, walking by her empty bedroom and, you know, crying every day.
So, uh, the timing was right and the risk was low cause it was a super small business and, I like to grow things. And so I've just spent the last 15 years, you know, growing it mostly by Thinking about, okay, what did somebody ask me today? And how could we help other agencies answer that question? And workshops and all kinds of other offerings have cropped up out of that.
[00:03:44] corey: So 15 years ago, you were previous to purchasing AMI. You were an agency owner involved in the curriculum as a member. What kind of
[00:03:53] drew: agency did you have? We had a brand shop, a very narrowly niched brand shop. 95% of our clients, we had some legacy clients, but 95% of our clients sold something to a bank, a credit union, or an insurance company.
So those weren't our clients, but the teller drawer guys, the, you know, the Private label credit cards, those kind of clients were our clients. So very B2B, very niche. And we, Danielle, my wife and I still own that agency today. Oh, you do? Yeah. We're just not very active in it anymore because we're all consumed with AMI.
That's super interesting.
[00:04:29] corey: So what type of agency is attracted to work with AMI? Like what's the typical profile of an agency as far as size, revenue, employees, what, you know, that, that type
[00:04:37] drew: of thing. Yeah, so our target and the people that we serve every day are what we call small to mid sized agencies. So that might be somebody.
On the super small side, who has no employees and does everything with 1099s to maybe 300 or so employees, but the lion's share of the agencies we interact with are 50 employees or less, so that they are still owner operated, the agency owner is still very active in the business, so you know, they're gonna have.
Their AGI and revenue is going to range anywhere from shy of a million dollars to, you know, hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on the size, but, you know, most of them are multiple million dollar agencies, and it's interesting from a demographic point of view, We, often attract young agency owners.
And when I mean young, I don't necessarily mean chronologically, but they're young in their agency ownership and all of a sudden they're realizing the thing is growing. But you know, most agencies grow pretty quickly the first five years because it's family and friends and referrals and it's, it's easy to double in size when you have no size to begin with, right?
So all of a sudden the growth is catching up with them and they're starting to have to make decisions and it's getting harder because the business is getting more complicated. So they're looking for resources and a lot of times they'll find us through the podcast or a blog post or something like that.
Come to a workshop. Learn some best practices and then realize the value of being surrounded by other agency owners who aren't afraid to share with you what they know, which is the community of agency owners that we've built. So we believe that we all learn better and faster when we learn together and that's a core tenet of all of the ways we teach, all of the peer groups, all of that.
It's very much communal learning. Everybody shows up to anything at AMI ready to teach and ready to learn. so that's a big group of the folks. And then we also attract a large population of agency owners who've been doing it for a while and it's going fine, right? Not gangbusters, but they're not, you know, they're not in the red.
They make a little money every year, but it's kind of a lifestyle business and they can't figure out how to get out of the day to day, how to grow it to double digit profitability. And. What's the game plan for Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4? And so they come to us, again, typically through the podcast or a workshop, and realize that they can exponentially improve both the bottom line and the growth of their agency, and by connecting with other agency owners who are ready to kind of lock arms with them and, figure it out together.
[00:07:17] corey: If you're going to get a sort of line up your clients across, let's say, a distribution curve, would you say majority of them fall in this for the small bucket or mid sized or maybe these larger, like what is the typical
[00:07:29] drew: size look like? Yeah. Well, it's interesting because, size is a misnomer in the agency business.
A lot of agency owners will say, well, really, we're really small. We're 25 people. That's not a small agency. The average agency in the U. S. is eight people. And that is including 1099. So for us, I would say sort of most of the agencies we work with are, if I were going to do kind of a bell curve. They're probably between 20 and 75 employees.
But a lot of agencies will say to me, are we too small to learn from you or to get plugged in in some way? And the answer is no, there's, I mean, if nothing else, consume the free stuff, listen to the podcast, you know, download the eBooks, I mean, take what you can and learn from it. So no, there's nobody who's too small.
[00:08:17] corey: And I love that you guys lead with value, provide a lot of free education for maybe those folks who are maybe a solopreneur or just starting out, they may not be at a point where they're ready to fully engage with your programs. what about the typical problem? I'm sure based on what you share, there's a lot of problems that you guys are able to assist and address through the various forms of your content and your peer groups and whatnot.
But if you were to say like, what is the biggest. One of the biggest challenge, maybe what top two or three challenges that they're facing in their agency when it's, when it becomes time for them to realize, Hey, I need to do something different.
[00:08:51] drew: So the problems tend to fall into four major buckets. The first one is biz dev.
How, you know, because what happens is when an agency starts, it's not that hard to get a couple of clients. And those clients know a couple people and you kind of use your, if you will, Rolodex to build the business. But after a certain point in time, you've exhausted all the family and friends, right? And so now you actually have to have a new business program that's going to generate They don't know how to create leads and opportunities and conversations.
And for a lot of agency owners, they don't know how to do that because they are not really sure how to differentiate themselves. They don't really understand the value proposition they bring compared to what other agencies do. So they don't know who to talk to and what to say to them to win the business.
So that's typically a bucket, right? And oftentimes that job falls on the agency owner who is not a salesperson. And by the way, we'll tell you within three seconds that they hate to sell. So they're burdened with something that they don't enjoy. They don't know how to do. And yet they feel a lot of pressure because they're, you know, they're growing, their people want raises, they need new computers, all the things.
So that's bucket number one. Bucket number two is money. So the money part is, I get that we take money in, I get that there's supposed to be something at the bottom, at the end, but how I spend it in the middle is confusing for me and I do it by gut. So every time one of my employees says, we can't possibly take on another client without hiring more people.
The agency owner doesn't know the math because it's very specific to agencies of how to figure out can we actually afford another person or are we just being inefficient in the way we work. And if we change the way we work, we have plenty of people on the team to do the work. So there's money issues around profitability, around where to spend their money.
Most agencies are overstaffed. One of the first things we come in and do when we look at an agency is look at the sort of the staffing ratios. to revenue. And in most cases, they're heavy by a handful of people or a person, but they don't understand how to actually see that objectively. They only see it subjectively.
And everybody looks super busy and everybody tells them they're super busy. And so, There's a lot of things around billability and utilization and all of those things. The problem is, I'm not making as much money as I want to. And in fact, in many cases, some of my best employees, my most seasoned employees, make more money than I do.
And their house isn't tied to the line of credit and they're not at risk. So, how do I get to actually compensate myself? You know, our belief is that agency owners should run their business in a way. That it's an ATM machine for them. They should be able to make, they need to build their wealth while they still own the business, not when they sell the business because most agencies don't sell.
And so you got to build your wealth. So that money, money problems are another bucket number two. That's okay.
[00:11:40] corey: I was just going to ask, just interject here real quickly, is that typically done through cashflow? In other words, they find a way to make sure that they're saving for the future through the cashflow of the agency.
[00:11:50] drew: Well, I think it's about running the business by the numbers rather than by the gut. Right. So it's, it, it may be that they are actually making enough, they're generating enough revenue to have a different kind of lifestyle. It's just where the money goes isn't in the right pockets. Right. and then the third area of pain for them is the actually getting it done, right?
Systems and process. Most agency people, especially if they grew up in an agency, hate systems and process, right? We like to do it by the seat of our pants. We like to go with the flow. We're creative. And as they, and when you're... Don't let process get in the way. Right? Right. You know, and when you're three or four people, everybody carrying all the tribal knowledge in their head works.
When you're 20 people or 25 people, That can break you in a hurry and so helping them understand what systems and processes are critical in their business and helping them build those is another thing that we do. And then the last one is leadership and that's twofold, right? It's the owner's leadership because again, in many cases, They weren't trained on how to be a good leader, how to be a visionary, how to...
So they have all these great ideas. How do I execute them? How do I get the team connected? how do I raise great employees and grow them and encourage them and retain them? Which is a huge issue right now, right? I put all this time and effort into training them. And then two years later, they walk out the door for a few grand, because I'm not really thinking enough about...
What am I creating for the employees and their opportunities, especially a small shop, because an employee will look around and if they don't understand what the growth plan is, they think they have to leave to grow as opposed to there's opportunity for me inside their shop. So it's leadership at the owner level, but it's also leadership at the mid level.
So when you get big enough that you have department heads and all of that, how do you grow and cultivate those people? So that they are aligned with the agency's values and also are doing the right things for the employees and the clients and all of that. So those are the pain points that we hear about every single day.
One of the
[00:13:47] corey: sort of tenants that, that jumped out to me when you were describing AMI and really what you've been able to create and cultivate is this concept of that to sort of this communal environment where folks who are peers can support each other and there's a, there's a deal of vulnerability.
How do you. How do you sort of encourage that vulnerability to, for people who may be, you know, uh, guarded about certain topics about their business specifically? how do you create that?
[00:14:14] drew: I think it's created at several levels. I think, I think it starts with, how I approach the business and now how my wife and I approach the business because we're now partners in the business, which is, you know, we very much are, you lead in with love.
You meet somebody where they are. And the more we help each other, the quicker we learn. So we're often saying, Oh, you know who you need to talk to? You need to talk to this agency owner because they went through that a year ago. And they're going to really be able to help you figure that out. So we're great connectors inside the community.
And the other thing is with a lot of our work, the peer groups and some of the other things, you have to bring your financials and pass them out. So when you're handing everybody your P& L and your balance sheet, Things get very intimate and very personal in a hurry, and you can't blow smoke up each other's skirts because we're looking at the numbers, but it also, if you're sitting around the table with 10 or 15 other people who are also letting you look at their vulnerability and their reality, and you're seeing You know what?
That guy was making more money than I could even imagine a year ago, and this year he's down 20%. You also see the ebb and flow of everybody's business, and you understand that that's part of the norm. And so once that gets normalized for you, and you realize that, you know, there's enough sunshine for everybody, if we help each other, and, and in fairness, we're careful about who we connect.
So if you were an automotive agency, I'm not going to introduce you to another automotive agency and ask you to look at his financials, right? But I would introduce you to a brand shop or a PR shop or a PPC shop or an agency that specializes in food and beverage. So we're also smart enough to realize that we don't stick a bunch of direct competitors in a space.
But at things like our conference, when you have 400 agency owners, absolutely there are competitors there and they know. We fully expect, in fact, from the stage, I say in the morning, my, your job is to teach as much as you can over the next three days. I know you're going to learn a bunch. I'm not worried about that.
But what makes this conference different is that you all show up to teach as well and you are here to be generous and share what you've learned, good and bad, with each other. And then we have content structured roundtables and discussions that facilitate that. So we sort of set the table and the expectations that if you're going to, if you're going to hang out at AMI, You gotta be willing to give as much as you get.
[00:16:35] corey: That's fantastic. And I think it's a great point that jumps out at me, which is that it starts with that sort of at the top, meaning yourself and your wife really setting that tone for folks. And I'm sure that's one of the ways that you attract the right people is by walking that talk.
[00:16:52] drew: And frankly, repel the ones who are like, heck no, I am, I'm never going to talk about that with somebody who owns an agency, even if it's half a country or half of world away, because they might be a competitor.
If that's, if that's the, if that's what their heart is telling them, then there are other agency consultants that are going to be a better fit for them. And, and I would happily point them in that direction, right? Because I know we're not for everybody. You've
[00:17:17] corey: said that it is critical for agencies to niche down or take a vertical focus to achieve growth.
[00:17:24] drew: Why do you feel that way? Well, because I think of the way agencies sell, successfully sell today. you have to be a subject matter expert in something less broad than marketing. Right. I mean, otherwise, everybody's your competitor and everybody's your potential client. And when you think about it, the way we shop today for everything is the consumer goes out and does a whole lot of homework before whoever the seller is.
And I don't care if it's toothpaste or a car or an agency or anything else, even knows that they're out shopping. the way we get found as agencies is by being subject matter experts and sharing that expertise, taking that position of authority and really owning it. And so, you know, brilliantly right before the pandemic, my last book came out, I co wrote it with a guy named Stephen Wessner and it's called Sell with Authority.
And it's all about this premise of how do you become a subject matter expert? How do you teach what you know, which then attracts the right fit prospects for you? And it's impossible to do that if you don't narrow your focus. So for us, a niche is either an industry, Or an audience, like we understand Millennial Moms better than anybody else, right?
Or it is a deliverable. So right now, a lot of agencies are of course playing with AI and some of those kind of things. And there, for a season, you could be one of the few agencies that has really nailed that. So before AI, it was Amazon Marketplace. And before that, it was something else. But the other agencies are coming right behind you.
So of all the ways to niche, that's the most sort of short term. But if you really dig in and you know an audience or you really dig in and you know an industry, it's really hard for generalists to ever catch up to you.
Yeah. Yeah. I
[00:19:07] corey: think that's what taps into my experience of what agencies struggle with, which is that differentiation.
And one of the ways to differentiate for sure is by becoming a, like you said, a subject matter expert for a very specific vertical. You become experts at solving their unique problems. Yeah. And as a result of that, you stand out a lot from. Just a generalist PPC or whatever agency who kind of works
[00:19:31] drew: with everyone.
Well, you know, we, every year we go out in the field, we've done it for the last 10 years. We do a piece of proprietary research that we call the agency edge. And we talk to clients about some aspect of their relationship with agencies. And I'm telling you, no matter what aspect of of agency client relationship we talk about, what we will hear over and over in study after study is they want someone who understands their business and every client in every industry thinks they are unique.
And that if you aren't, if you are not drilled into their special sauce, then you can't possibly bring the right solutions. At the speed and the quantity that they need, and they do not want to take the time to train a generalist in their business. They want you to walk in understanding, fill in the blank, whatever it is they do, so that you can get right to the solving their problems.
And so if all your case studies are So if you have something they can go, Oh my God, we had to solve that problem that look at what they did. Okay. If all of your stories, if you're speaking from stage, how, if your podcast, however you broadcast to the world that you have a depth of expertise, if that feels like you're eavesdropping on their conference room, they get it.
And I know this works. This is exactly how we built AMI was exactly this model. And so I will be talking to a prospect and they'll say, or, you know, we send out a weekly newsletter and every week I'll get an email or a handful of emails from somebody going, was this about us? No, it was not. But if you see yourself in it, then hopefully it was helpful.
Right? So when somebody demonstrates over and over and over again, that they get your world. Now you're in a small subset of agencies that are going to be considered for the work. So rather than being one of 25, you're one of three. And if you're really good at the content that is super in depth and super helpful, and it's never self promoting, it is never about you, but it is always relentlessly helpful.
Sometimes you can be the only agency that they consider, because they already feel beholden to you, they feel like they know you. And then the phone call or the meeting is really just a chemistry check, because they've already checked the box that you get them, and that you can solve their problems. Now it's just, are you a good person, and do I like you, and could I spend time with you or not, and that's it.
[00:22:04] corey: Wow, we share a passion in this topic. Yep, we do. what are the negatives to taking a vertical or a niche approach as an
[00:23:12] drew: agency? Well, here's, the negative everyone thinks, it, which is I'm limiting my opportunities. And I'm telling you, I have never, ever seen a vertical that is too narrow.
So, so early in my ownership of AMI, I had a woman, come to a workshop and she walked up and she said, My agency blah, blah, blah, my agency and here's where I am and I said, well, what is, what does your agency do? And she said, we serve the knitting industry. And in my head, I was like, you've got to be kidding me, right?
I mean, really how many, how many knitting clients can be there, right? Yeah, not much. So she ended up joining a peer group, which meant that I got to see her financials. I just shut my mouth because you know what, she is a small shop and she's taking home more money every year than most agency owners of 50 or 75 employees will ever take home.
So there is no such thing as too small. So that's the biggest worry, which is false. there are enough clients out there, no matter what your niche is, number one. So the disadvantage is your team can get bored, right? If all you're doing is knitting needles and. You know, yarn and patterns, but when you hire people who have a passion for what it is your agency specializes in, that's like candy to them, because they're getting to play around in that.
And I also think the deeper you get knowledge around a subject matter, whatever it is, The more fun it is to play in it. And so your team may initially get bored, like, Oh, you're kidding me. One, one more car dealer, you know, really how many, but as they learn more and more about the business of car dealers, they get to be even more creative.
They get to be even more expansive in their thinking, and they get to have huge impact on their client's business, which ultimately is why we all want to do this work, right? And we want. to change the lives of our clients and our business. And so, the boredom passes pretty quickly. Honestly, I'm hard pressed.
I'm sure somebody else out there, and you know, this could be like a Sunday morning debate, but I'm sure there are people out there who believe that you should be a generalist for a lot of reasons. The other reason why you would want to be a generalist is if you want to only work in your local community.
Because one of the great things about being a specialist is it makes geography a non issue. They don't care where you live. They don't care where you work because you're an expert. So, you know, it is the, I will fly to Mayo Clinic to have brain surgery. I don't care if I have to fly there because they're the experts, versus I'm not going to drive by four general practitioners to get my flu shot.
Right. So, if you love your local community and you're super plugged in and you're the chamber president and you have a commitment to your town, if you will, or your city, Then a generalist is probably the right thing to do because then narrowing down is a problem for you because there's only so many banks that you can serve in the same geography, right?
[00:26:09] corey: Yeah. And I've even heard certain folks consider the local, community as a niche, right? That, that is their, that is their vertical, so to speak, although there are different types of businesses. They
[00:26:20] drew: understand the ecosystem of that
[00:26:23] corey: community. What's going on in the chamber and all the, all the things and you know,
[00:26:29] drew: as you know, I mean, the really cool thing about owning an agency is you own the agency. So whether it's the right thing to do for everybody or not, you get to decide. So, you know, So we will all day long talk about best practices and good choices, but we also, and this is part of meeting people where they are, we will also say, you know, okay, what matters most to you?
And let's help you build the business that actually serves that. Because if you're going to take the risk of owning the business, it should help you build the life you want to build. Amen.
[00:27:03] corey: Stepping back from,that topic specifically, but just in general, with all your experience and all the agency, owners that you've worked with directly and through AMI and as an agency owner, what would be maybe a, your top advice or your most important advice, when it comes to agency founders?
Who are truly looking to create that lifestyle, but maybe you're struggling, like, what would you say to them?
[00:27:25] drew: I would say that I, I think there are some, what we call agency math basics that if you learn those and you really run the business by those. So for example, you know, most agencies, when we meet them, they talk about their revenue, gross revenue.
And I will say to them right off the bat, I, I could care less. what your billings are. They're irrelevant. What I care about is your adjusted gross income because that's actually the money you get to run your business. So, you know, for anybody listening who's not familiar with those terms, you have gross revenue, which is everything you bill a client.
And then out of that comes all of your cost of goods. So that's if you pay for their media or printing or any contractors that you hire to do the work. All of that is a cost of goods. You would not bear those expenses if it weren't for that client. And what's left is your adjusted gross income. And that's the money you use to pay your people.
So it's loaded salaries, cover your overhead, and then hopefully there's some profit. And so understanding the difference between gross revenue and AGI and starting to run your business based on your AGI, not your gross revenue, is one of the most simple things, changes you can make that is absolutely And then when you say, okay, my AGI is a million dollars, 55 to 60% of that money should be spent on people. So that's loaded salaries, salaries and benefits. 20 to 25% should be spent on overhead. So that's, you know, travel and cars and lawyers and toner for the copier or whatever, whatever it costs. Rent if you're still in an office, those kinds of things, which should leave you 20% profit before taxes.
If you run your business by those numbers, I don't care if you're one person or a thousand people. There's no reason why every agency can't hit those numbers and being 20% profitable is a game changer for most agencies because they've never experienced that, or they experienced it in the first three years when they were doubling in size every year, but now they're at 10 people and they can't figure out how to get to double digits again.
[00:29:30] corey: you. That's awesome. I noticed you have, different courses and workshops. what would you say when it comes to productized services? do you guys have productized services? What does that look like for the type of? Things you offer to
[00:29:42] drew: your community. I mean, you could argue that some of the workshops and other things are productized in that they are, you know, every workshop we teach sort of follows the same format and all of that.
We have some online courses that somebody can buy without ever interacting with us. But for the most part, as teachers, which is really at the end of the day, what we are teachers and coaches, We have to drill down to the individual sooner or later. The podcast, in essence, is a productized service. It's, you know, it's a definite one to many.
But for us, we have certain, we have, everything is package priced and all of that. But if somebody wants to drill down to, Drew, I want to talk to you on the phone about something that is keeping me up at night that I don't believe any other agency owner has ever talked to you about, even though I've already talked about it three times that day, right?
They can drill down to that level of customized service. Got it. So
[00:30:32] corey: you, offer a little bit of both and you try and meet the people where they're at based on their life cycle.
[00:30:38] drew: Yeah. But I think for a lot of agencies, and again, you know, I think a lot of agencies will productize, for example, a strategy session or a marketing plan or, you know, here's a methodology by which we take you through a process and there's a deliverable at the end.
I think a lot of agencies have productized that. What's interesting is, most agencies have to choose one of two paths, right? I think probably you see. The most referenced podcast. when I meet someone at a conference or whatever, they will walk up to me and they'll say, I want to build a Wonder Bread Factory agency.
So it's episode 100 out of 400 and some odd episodes. But what I talk about is agencies are one of two things. You're either the artisanal bakery where someone walks in and says, I would like to buy one carrot cake in the shape of the Death Star. And the person behind the counter says, We've never done that before, but we will figure out how to do that and tell you what it costs.
And we build that cake, right? And every day it's custom, custom, custom. Or an agency that really runs kind of like the Wonder Bread Factory, which is, look, we sell bread. We sell bread in a bag. We have wheat and white. There's 32 slices in each bag. Would you like wheat or white? Well, I would really like a carrot cake with, in the shape of the dessert.
We don't do that. We sell bread. And here's what we do. And so like a lot of the PPC and SEO shops and things like that are more Wonder Bread Factory, right? They do one thing or two things. They do it really well. And they have really productized it. Look, you can have the gold package, the platinum package or the silver package.
Here's what you get. And away we go. The value of doing that, obviously, is you can grow exponentially, it's easier to hire and train people, the sales cycle is different because you're not waiting for them to decide if they want the cake in one shape, or they want a pie, or blah, blah, blah, or something you've never done before.
You don't have to go back and put a pencil to paper to figure out what it costs, but you're only doing white and wheat bread. And so for some agency owners, and this is what I'm saying, when you do the math, Everybody would have a Wonder Bread Factory agency, like when you just think about the pure economics of it, but for many agency owners, that sounds like hell on earth, like if I had to only do that every day, like just bake the same loaf of bread, I can't, I can't do it.
Great, then be an artisanal bakery and be the best one you can be, but it's really one of those two paths. Most agencies find themselves somewhere in the middle when they start and they just gravitate. You know, one way or the other. Right. That's awesome. Yeah. That's
[00:33:12] corey: awesome. just a couple last questions here before we wrap up.
First one is, we are in A revolution when it comes to artificial intelligence. We have generative ai, we have chat, G p T, we've got all these wonderful things that Yep. Directly, or indirectly impact the life of a agency founder or owner. Do you have any thoughts or perspectives you can share on what's going on and what may be coming down the
[00:33:35] drew: road?
Yeah, so this is a great example of us thinking, geez, what does everybody need? So we're doing a series now where we're, and we talk about it in our newsletter and other places. It's open to the public, it's free, where we're having three agency owners. We're doing a webinar, so it's an hour long. We have three agency owners show us how they're using AI today.
And then they answer questions about whatever that tool is. And so about once a month, we have three new agency owners talking about three new tools. So I will say this. So, you and I are recording this in early August. And Macon, the Marketing AI Institute, just wrapped up their conference. And a lot of our AMI agencies were there.
And one of the big takeaways for them was... They're there mixing and mingling with a lot of corporate people and client side people who have no idea what to do with AI. And their takeaway was, when I talked to a bunch of them, was, this is a huge opportunity for us to lead the band. And for us to get out ahead of it and to start talking to our clients about it, helping them put together strategies around it, the rules around it, what are the boundaries and guardrails around how the client should use AI.
We should be talking about how we're using AI, but this is another opportunity for us to be business partners with our clients and teachers with our clients. Nobody hires an agency because they want marketing. People hire agencies because they need answers to problems. They need new market share, whatever.
they have a checklist of things they need, but it's not about marketing. And so I think sometimes agencies To narrowly define how they can be helpful to a client. And AI is a great example of if we can get out in front of it, and we can be thoughtful about it, and we can sort of figure out how to leverage it for both the benefit of our own agency, but also our clients, we can be the guide.
To our clients for that, which is a huge opportunity. Every agency wants to be at that discussion table as opposed to being the vendor who just gets thrown, tossed projects over the fence. So figure out how you can be somebody who knows something your clients need to know. And then again, back to our conversation, generously teach them everything, you know, and guide them that way.
I think in a certain
[00:35:44] corey: perspective, is that agencies are hired, they're valuable to clients because they are specialists in solving a specific problem. Well, AIs present another specific problem to businesses and, agencies are really well positioned to be able to be that trusted advisor. even more so when they verticalize and they can apply AI to attorneys or to dentists or whatever that vertical is.
I think that is potentially really powerful.
[00:36:11] drew: Yeah. it's one of those things that it's not going away. It's not going to get less pervasive. So you can either get on the bandwagon and I, you know, I think agency owners today, it's interesting. Half of them are Terrified of it because it's going to change the way they do work and others are super excited about it.
They're more exploratory in their mindset and all of that, but You can either let it run you over or you can be in front of it. And really those are the two choices we have. And the train has left the station. Right, right. And there's a lot of cool things that we can do that doesn't diminish, that doesn't diminish our ability to be smart and strategic and helpful and creative.
it just... In a lot of ways, get some of the minutiae out of the way so you can spend more time doing that. Yeah, it
[00:36:57] corey: occurs to me that clients don't really care how things are created. No. They don't need to know how the sausage is made. They just need the result of whatever their, you know, their investment in you is.
So, I have one last question for you. What's your
[00:37:10] drew: motivation?
I just was talking to somebody about this yesterday. Running an agency is hard and it is lonely and you're making a lot of it up as you go. And after doing it for so many years, my motivation is really simple. I want to take as much of that away for as many agency owners as we can so that they don't feel so alone.
So that they know there is a resource they can trust to get answers, to get help, to get there faster, to get there better. And that they don't have to do it with kind of hiding their answers. from everybody else in the world that they can actually cheat by looking at somebody else's answers. Who's going to say, here, want to see what I did?
I'll show it to you. And they do that back and everybody is better for it. And the business is better and they can take better care of their family and their team. That just seems like a great world to live in. And I want to be a part of that.
[00:38:04] corey: Amen. I think that's a very transparently, I can tell just from your body language and knowing you as I'm, as I'm beginning to, that that is absolutely authentically true for you.
And I think that's beautiful. where can people reach out to you or learn more about AMI?
[00:38:19] drew: So the easiest way to learn more about AMI is probably to head over to agencymanagementinstitute.com. Mm-hmm. , uh, you can email me at drew at all of those words. LinkedIn, uh, people track me down. The podcast is called Build a Better Agency, so again, a new episode.
We do a podcast every week, and we've been out for almost 8 years, so you certainly have a backlog of episodes to listen to if you want. A lot of people, so we do 4 interviews with folks like you, and then the 5th episode is what I call a solo cast, so it's really me just teaching something. So, a great way to jump into the podcast if you never have is start with, you know, episode 5, Those are sort of the 10s.
Teaching episodes, and then go back and look through the guest list and see what their area of specialty is and go, Oh, I want to learn more about BizDev. I'm going to listen to that one, or I want to learn more about HR, but all of them are very, very agency centric. These are all people who work with agencies, serve agencies, are agencies.
We don't talk about anything that is not going to be helpful to an agency owner or leader. So that's awesome. Yeah. Thank you so much for joining, Drew. Oh, thanks for having me. It was been fun.