One membership covers your whole agency. You and your whole team can take part in all these sessions with an Agency Hackers membership.
Every month your agency's team leaders can join sessions aimed at creative, sales / marketing, client services and operations leaders.
Upcoming live sessions
These sessions are for Agency Hackers members. If your agency isn't a member yet, please join here.
SYSTEMS, PROCESSES AND PEOPLE:
HOW TO ACE YOUR AGENCY OPERATIONS
When was the last time you looked at your processes? Say goodbye to upset clients and deliverables falling through the cracks.
Proper processes (that people understand and follow) are the difference between running a business you love, and having a job you can never quit.
Gray MacKenzie's business Zenpilot helps agencies automate their operations. In this session, we'll dig into some ways agencies can streamline and structure their operations and processes.
We'll talk about:
- How to get people bought in to processes and start adopting the mindset where they're looking to build assets for the business.
- Why you should assign an internal champion that is explicitly NOT the agency owner (and why that piece is crucial).
- Why your processes need to "live" where the work is actually done – (if you want your team to follow and adopt them.
Gray lives and breathes agency process. There are are some good nuggets in here – even if you already have well-oiled SOPs and workflows.
WHAT'S IT LIKE AS A
BLACK AGENCY LEADER NOW?
Josh Akapo runs a community of Black agency leaders. What stuff do its members discuss? Let's find out.
What's it like being a Black agency founder?
When Josh Akapo told me he'd started a private Guild group for Black agency leaders, I asked him why he started it.
He told me that when you're Black and you run an agency, you have to decide how much of your race to bring into your business.
"You face questions like: am I going to be a diversity and inclusion hero? Am I going to try to bring everyone into the industry and open up doors and break down barriers? Because that can be exhausting. Or do you forget your Blackness?"
We'll ask Josh about:
- Having to be pickier about clients.
- Having to think about how you're perceived.
- Deciding what battles to fight. ("You can be almost too aware of your Blackness as an agency founder, and because you're too busy trying to change the world you lose the reason why you wanted to start the agency in the first place.")
If you are Black, or you're interested in the challenges Black founders face – join this one!
"If you just want to be a black agency founder and to make work that's cool. But the world doesn't work as nicely as you want it. At some point your Blackness is going to have to come to play in it."
Are people still buying and selling agencies? What's the market like right now?
Join the team at Waypoint Partners for an informal update on how the M&A scene is doing.
We'll hear from them how:
- There is (still) a very active buyer market that’s not (yet) full of distressed agencies
- There are more "non-traditional acquirers" buying agencies for the first time. (Sometimes they know what they're doing, and sometimes they don't. What do you need to watch out for?)
- There are more non-traditional deals being done.
Waypoint Partners has a great line of sight across the M&A landscape, so I thought it would be good to hop on a call with Jim Houghton and Matt Lacey to find out what's occurring.
Join this and get clued up on who's buying and who's selling.
Join our monthly hangout for client services people. This month we're discussing KPIs. (Sexy.)
Calling all client services people! How are you measured?
In business and in life, they say you get what you measure. But what about client services? What kind of KPIs are client services working under at the moment?
In this session we'll compare the various ways client services is evaluated. Are you normal? Are you weird? Let's find out!
BUYING OUT YOUR BOSS: INSIDE
AN AGENCY MBO
Wildfire PR MD Debby Penton owned 20% of her agency. Hear how she bought out her founder who was no longer around.
"You're MD of this £2.5m agency – but you've got a majority shareholder who's no longer running the business. Everything is amicable now. But give it a few years and it will be different."
"You'll be pissed off that you're giving up the lion's share of the money – and by that time it will be too big for you to buy it out."
So Debby decided to act.
“We bought him out and we've got a few years to pay it off.”
The deal went through and everybody remained friends. But there are a few interesting lessons in this for anybody who might buy – or sell – a majority stake in their business.
- You will be encouraged to put your own money down – but you DON'T have to.
- You might just find you hold the cards as the buyer.
- Be careful about losing control over a business you own.
Now Debby and her business partner Andrew are in control of a fantastic agency that's set for growth. Join us and ask Debby your questions if you’re thinking of doing anything like this.
Here's our monthly hangout for process and operations folk. Join and ask your questions of other agency process folk.
In this month's operations mastermind, we gather together another bunch of process people for an hour of problem solving and mutual support.
Bring a question and get it answered (or off your chest, at least.)
WHAT NOBODY TELLS YOU
ABOUT SELLING YOUR AGENCY
Catch some wisdom from an experienced buyer (and seller)
Why not listen to somebody who’s bought and sold several?
“There are all sorts of fundamental things that people get wrong” says Russ Lidstone. “I’ll share lessons I’ve learned on both sides of table: selling businesses, buying businesses, and being involved with private equity.”
Russ is Group CEO of The Creative Engagement Group. In this interview we’ll touch on:
1. The importance of ALIGNMENT when you’re selling.
“You can always tell a team that isn't aligned” says Russ.
“If someone’s going to market and one person is purely doing it for money and the other wants scale to grow, it spells danger. Also: you can always tell if people don’t quite get on.”
2. The importance of NARRATIVE in a transaction
Russ says that many businesses don’t go to market with a clear narrative.
“It’s amazing how many people make so many mistakes around their story."
We’ll talk about what you should get straight – so buyers feel confident.
3. What nobody tells you about M&A
Boy does Russ have some pelts on his pony. We’ll talk about leading through change, group structures, cross selling… and just figuring out what the heck PE means to agencies.
Great one to drop in on if M&A features in your tea leaves.
We’ll talk about what you should get straight – so buyers feel confident. "What’s your competitive engine? Who do you displace when you win business? How much do you depend on new biz vs existing revenue? What are your best case studies?" Lots of valuable insight here.
But two years later, they threw in the towel.
"We were generating leads – but agencies couldn't close them" says Josh.
"Every agency SAYS they want more leads, but most agencies do not understand the amount of FOLLOW UP required to get something to happen."
"People would just send an email and expect a deal to magically materialise."
So Josh and Joey pivoted. Instead of finding leads for agencies, they now help agencies build an in-house sales function so they can do it all themselves.
We'll cover how you do this: the process, technology, people and assets you need.
If all your business comes through "word of mouth" or random referrals, this will definitely get your brain whirring.
"Most agencies are bad at hiring and managing sales people" says Joey.
"Even if you DO find a 'diamond in the rough' salesperson, they're STILL probably not going to be successful – because you haven't given them a sales process. A sprinter needs a track to run on."
Question: how can you put growth at the heart of your agency?
In this session we're joined by Alannah Daly of Raised by Wolves. We'll talk about:
- How do you stop new business being siloed?
"Lots of other parts of the agency will be very integrated – but new business people are often left on their own. New business needs to sit at the center of the agency as a key part of the culture and how the agency ticks."
- How can you get a "momentum" around new business in your agency?
You know the feeling: you're busy on client projects – and when all that dies down it's: "Oh my God, my pipeline's empty!"
How can we keep that mojo going, so new business is a living, breathing part of an agency – rather than something that we pick up and put down?
- How can you instil a growth culture?
"A growth culture is where it's not on one person's job. What's your strategist's role? Your creative director? What are their objectives with regards to growth across the year? How are you using their brains to ensure that creativity and ideas sits at the heart of your new business strategy?"
Join us refresh your thinking on how you approach new business.
"In Mad Men, you really got the sense that new business sat at the centre of the agency. Don Draper was respected for his ability to win new business. That's where the excitement and drive was. In some respects, we've lost that."
SCALING PAST 50 PEOPLE: WHAT BREAKS AND HOW DO YOU FIX IT?
Adding more people changes an agency – often in crazy and unexpected ways. Jim Bowes has the t-shirt.
When you run an agency – 20 people is not the same as 50 people. You are not the same creature. In fact, you are not the same species!
In this session, Manifesto CEO Jim Bowes talks us through his experiences scaling an agency.
"I got Manifesto to 50 or 60 people, and I got a little bit stuck there. We were hitting all kinds of bottlenecks" says Jim.
"But I've managed to just about break through – and Manifesto is on its way towards being a £10m agency in its own right."
In this interview Jim will talk about:
- Re-organising the business
- Pushing accountability down the agency
- What didn't work, and how he fixed it
"It's an ongoing story, but I think we've broken the back of it now. Because we're at 63 people and the company still works. I feel like we're creating distance from 50."
HOW TO START (OR EXPAND)
YOUR AGENCY IN THE USA
Ever thought about opening your agency in the USA? 3SidedCube is about to do just that.
Ever thought about starting up in the USA?
3SidedCube is about to do just that – and Sophia ‘Puff’ Story has agreed to share her experience of setting up a brand new business in Chicago.
"For eight years, about 60% of 3SidedCube's revenue has come from the USA" says Puff. "So five years ago we flew to New York to look at setting up a US arm."
But they decided NOT to go ahead.
"We agreed that we weren't ready. It was far too expensive for us at the time, and we weren't confident we could do it."
Instead, the team spent a few years getting their UK business spick and span.
Now their business is in great shape. They have a super-clear niche, and 70% of their overheads are covered by recurring revenue.
In this session Puff will explain her journey towards getting a USA business off the ground.
- Picking a city. They chose Chicago – not New York. We'll hear about why. (It's not just because Puff can live near the Home Alone house.)
- The opportunity to stand out creatively. "In their comms – whether it's email, on the phone, or just the look of documents – it just feels like how it used to be 10 or 15 years ago."
- Navigating a more formal culture. "Clients follow processes much more than in the UK. It's hard to pick up the phone and have an informal chat sometimes."
We'll also cover picking a visa, finding a network, and – yes – turning on the ol' British charm.
This is a great one if you're interested in adding a USA dimension to your business.