Agency Veteran Drew McLellan on How to Increase Agency Profitability

Drew McLellan

Are you a new agency owner? Do you have an agency that’s been around a while but isn’t growing?

In today’s episode I interview Drew McLellan. Drew has owned a marketing agency for almost 20 years, and has revenue of over $2.5 million per year. He is also the founder of the Agency Management Institute which advises other small and medium size agencies on how to increase profitability.

Drew has found that many agency owners start out because they are really good at a particular marketing craft. Once they go from being a practitioner to an owner, they find themselves swimming in waters of overwhelm dealing with all the things they don’t know.  Listen in for powerful advice on growing a successful agency by focusing on the mechanics of the business.

We finish off the interview talking about how to crowd source books which can be a huge boon to your business.

Listen now and you’ll hear Drew and I talk about:

  • (03:00) Introduction
  • (05:00) What type of agencies do you work with?
  • (07:00) What advice would you give to new agency owners?
  • (12:00) How should a solo agency owner make the the transition to team building?
  • (16:00) Should agencies focus more on inbound or outbound?
  • (27:30) Why is having processes so important for agency owners?
  • (33:00) How does one crowd source a book?
  • (39:00) How many authors contributed to each book?

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

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About Drew McLellan

Drew McLellan has worked in advertising for 25+ years and started his own agency, McLellan Marketing Group in 1995 after a five-year stint at Y&R.

He also owns and runs Agency Management Institute (AMI), which offers agency management training, consulting and facilitates agency owner peer networks for small to mid sized agencies (advertising, digital, marketing, media and PR) so they can increase their AGI by at least 25%, attract better clients and employees and best of all — exceed the agency owner’s life/financial goals.

Drew’s agency was a member of the organization for years before Drew acquired AMI and began to run it full-time.

He launched his agency’s blog in 2006 and it has been on the AdAge Top 150 from the list’s inception. His first book, 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, was published in 2003 and Drew and Australian marketer Gavin Heaton created the Age of Conversation series of crowdsourced books in 2007. To date, the AOC series has raised over $50,000 for charity. Drew launched the AMR blog in 2012 and hopes it will be a great resource to agency leaders.

Drew’s often interviewed/quoted in Entrepreneur Magazine, New York Times, CNN, BusinessWeek, and many others. The Wall Street Journal calls him “one of 10 bloggers every entrepreneur should read.”

When he’s not hanging out with agency owners/staff, Drew spends time with his family and pondering why the Dodgers can’t seem to get back to the World Series.

Drew has a Master’s Degree from the University of Minnesota but alas, he cannot remember their fight song.

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  • Trent, In your marketing strategy you mentioned in this episode, are you reaching out to the same lumpy mail 100 list with your podcast interview invite email or is that a seperate list? I’m wondering what your thoughts are for hitting up the same list with an interview offer if they have not responded to the lumpy mail opt in offer.

    • I don’t see any harm in trying that.

      • Is that how you’re doing it? Or do you have different lists? One for the 100 lumpy mail and another for guest inquiries?

        • I have stopped the lumpy mail and am not doing any additional follow up with that list. I have manually created a new list in another niche using LinkedIn and I’m now doing manual outreach to that list to ask them one of two questions:

          1. Is blogging an important part of your lead gen strategy,
          2. Would you find any value in seeing an inbound marketing case study from your niche?

  • Quit the Target100? Never. What I stopped doing was the direct mail. Now, I am focused on using LinkedIn as I have described in my posts, to do out reach and invite CMOs to be potential guests on my podcast. The response has been quite good and during their “pre-interview” I’m able to determine if they’d be a good prospect or not.

    If they are a good prospect, and they have a good story to tell, I invite them onto the show. If they don’t have a good story to tell, I ask them if they want/need help solving some of the problems I uncovered during the pre-interview.

    This approach is by far the most effective that I have tested so far.

  • This was a great episode, Trent. I just caught up with it now.

    I’ve heard you mention your agency wiki a few times. Would you mind sharing what software you’re using to run the wiki? Thanks.

    • Hey Damien, I use Customer Hub, its a membership site platform that is owned by Infusionsoft, which I also use.

      • NIce, I’ve used CH at a previous employer but didn’t know it could be used in that way. I’m currently looking at Confluence as an option for an internal wiki.