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The future of events and other agency biz dev tactics

Lee McKnight, Jr. shares fresh research from RSW/US that may help agency leaders better understand how events fit in to the business development mix for 2022.

Lee joined Chip Griffin from SAGA to talk about this research, as well as a broader discussion of how to think about growing your agency in the current environment.

During this episode of the Small Agency Talk Show, the pair explored content marketing, virtual vs in-person events, RFPs, LinkedIn newsletters, and more.

Key takeaways

Lee McKnight, Jr: “Virtual trade shows will remain a thing at least through 2022. And I think inevitably there might be some virtual fatigue from that. Moving forward it seems to me like it’s going to continue to be a hybrid of some sort even years from now. People are seeing that there’s value there for a number of reasons.”

Chip Griffin: “Fundamentally you attend in-person and virtual events for entirely different reasons. I think that a lot of people sort of miss that concept and instead think virtual is replacing in person, and they’re not. They’re different things.”

Lee McKnight, Jr, speaking about a potential new RSW/US client: “[For them] New business was only going after RFPs. That’s it. And I kind of had an internal gasp that in 2022 that that’s truly their strategy.”

Chip Griffin: “RFPs as an agency growth strategy is sort of like smoking as a weight loss strategy. It might work, but it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

The following is a computer-generated transcript. Please listen to the audio to confirm accuracy.

Chip Griffin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Small Agency Talk Show. I’m your host Chip Griffin, the founder of SAGA, the Small Agency Growth Alliance. And I am absolutely delighted and very excited to have with me, my good friend Lee McKnight, Jr. Welcome to the show Lee.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Hello, Chip. Thank you for having me back. I’m excited. We’re here.

Chip Griffin: I am excited to have you here because I know it’s always going to be a good show when I have you on. And frankly, probably a very unpredictable show, which makes it even more fun. So..

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Just the two of us, I’m going to sing that song now. Are you ready? I’m not going to.

Chip Griffin: Oh, okay. Okay, good. I will never say I, that is my pledge to all of you viewers and listeners out there.

I will never, ever sing on this show. Nobody wants to hear that. So Lee, if someone has been living in a cave and maybe this is their first time ever watching this very popular show, um, who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself, where they can find you online.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Sure. Thank you. Yeah. So I am the VP of sales for RSW/US.

So we are outsourced business development group. Uh, we solely work with agencies kind of an umbrella term because it does include PR and, and, a lot of different types of firms. Um, but essentially that’s been our for 16 years now been our sole focus and it’s helping at the top of the funnel breakthrough, and then helping nurture those leads, ongoing to get clients closer to closing business.

Chip Griffin: Excellent. And of course they can find you at rswus.com. So. Great place for lots more information. And if you’re looking for more information about SAGA, you can find us at smallagencygrowth.com. With that, let’s go ahead and jump into the show. And obviously as an expert in agency business development, it makes sense to talk about some of the tactics that agencies are using these days.

And in particular, I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about where we stand with events. I know this is something you’ve written about recently. It’s something that you think about it’s a lot of agencies are, are used to generating business from events in the last two years have kind of disrupted that.

So. I’m curious, you know, where do you see things standing with events as part of the arsenal of business development tactics?

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Yeah. Yeah. It, it really is going to be interesting moving forward because it’s, it’s literally changing, like, as we speak, right. Because I saw just yesterday, I believe it was I’m I’m going to date, evergreen content here, but you had events like, non-agency for a second, but like Coachella and these giant festivals who are now, it’s no testing, no mask.

Um, pretty much back, you know, well, back to normal. So, and I think we’re, you know, when you and I were talking before, I think we’re seeing some of that, you know, with events and again, as we speak right now, so what’s interesting. And…

Chip Griffin: We just saw it with the Superbowl, not to, not to, you know, rip the band-aid off from, you know, my friends in Cincinnati.

Oh boy, he’s gone. I have managed to insult Lee McKnight here. And he has, for those of you listening to the audio version, he walked off set because I mentioned the Superbowl, but I mentioned it not to twist the knife on the Bengals. I did a little bit, cause it’s just kind of fun. Oh, I didn’t have a dog in that fight and I didn’t really care who won the game, but.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: But because of me, you wanted the Bengals to win, I’m sure.

Chip Griffin: Let’s just say, yeah, sure. Let’s we’re going to go with that. Um, but, you know, they, they made a big deal going into the Superbowl about how they were going to enforce the mask wearing policies in California, and you couldn’t cheat by buying a popcorn and just having it sit on your lap throughout the game.

And then Super bowl. Sunday came and pretty much nobody was wearing a mask anywhere in the stadium. So, and a lot of people have said that sort of everybody just saying to heck with it, we’re done with this. We’re moving on. And we’ve seen in recent days, lots and lots of jurisdictions, removing mask mandates, removing vaccine requirements, for going to restaurants and things like that.

So I think that the tide is shifting at least for the moment and. If nothing else that the last two years has taught us, it can be unpredictable. What’s coming next. But at the moment it feels like if people want to proceed with events, it’s as good a time as any.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: I think so. I, you know, it’s, we released, and I know that’s part of the reason why we’re talking this, but, we released, our new year outlook report five weeks ago. It’s a, it’s an interesting one because it’s the only one where we survey marketers and agencies. And it’s also one where, because we’re getting a lot of this as your predictions or, you know, what do you, what, what are you expecting in this new year? We’ll go back in Q2 and three and four and say, and you know, do some content around, okay.

Here’s what the marketer said then where are we today? And I, you know, in terms of events, What was interesting and I’ll, I’ll just kind of read this out. But when we asked marketers and agencies in 21, in 2021, because we, we released this survey in December that entire month, when we were taking in this, taking in the survey in terms of moving forward into 22 and what their expectations were.

32% of marketers told us they attended one to five conferences or trade shows in 2021. It was a huge drop from ’20, which is weird and interesting. 65%. Of marketers. And when we did this survey, the previous year said that they had so a really big drop and, and we asked also, and I won’t go super into those just unrelenting stats here.

But, but also it was interesting was that, and I guess good was when they did go overwhelmingly both agencies and marketers went in. I guess until kind of Omicron and things like that kind of busted out. So what do we take away from that? On the marketer side? Cause agencies, it was like 75%. They were raring to go last year.

And I think like, you know, many of us maybe have been, I don’t know if marketers have just found that, you know, what, what they were attending was kind of lackluster. And so, and then certainly traveling COVID has to play a big part of this without a doubt, but it was just interesting how much it dropped.

Um, and so I think it’s going to be interesting again, moving forward from a business development standpoint though. I think what we’re well, I know just we’re seeing, and just kind of empirically that while the beginning of the pandemic was pretty jarring for a lot of agencies. And we talk this here on the show before, I think many of them realized, okay, we can’t be relying on, uh, in person events and networking and we’ve gotta be, have, these our in-house chops.

And these inside sales tactics have gotta be on point. And that’s, I mean, it’s always been true, but even now, as we’re cautious, lead into your point, starting to go back to normal, whatever that normal is. Um, you know, those agencies who really hone their craft on that inside sales piece, I are the ones who are going to be doing better.

Chip Griffin: I think there’s a couple of things here. And I think it is interesting that a lot of times your research does tend to show a disconnect on many topics between the marketers and the agencies that serve them. Right? So it’s, to me, it’s not surprising that there may be some degree of difference in how they each respond and perceive these things.

I think the other thing is a lot of folks are just reviewing their assumptions about all sorts of things related to business. Right? Top on the list is, you know, a lot of of businesses are reviewing the assumption that you need to be in the office five days, a week, eight hours a day in order to be effective.

And, and so we’ve seen that concept road. I think that that others are seeing the idea that, you know, the only way to be doing things is these large scale in-person events or frequent attendance at events. I think that those assumptions are getting blown up and people are sitting there and trying to be more intentional about it now does that last?

Who knows? But I, but I think that at least in the moment, there are a lot of people questioning, you know, should I do this? Should I even attend a virtual event? Is it actually worth my time that I’m spending on it.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Yeah, that’s a great point. I mean, we just had our second virtual conference of which you were a part of the initial one and it’s, it was a good turnout.

Again, we were, we were happy and we were a bit trepidatious, you know about, okay, now where are we with virtual and I, you know, we asked about moving forward with marketers and agencies. Like, do you think what do you think about virtual moving forward? I think it was 80% of agencies. 60% of marketers said that they…

Virtual trade shows will remain a thing at least through 2022. And I, you know, I, I think inevitably there might be some virtual fatigue from that. Uh, I don’t know, moving forward. It seems to me like it’s going to continue to be a hybrid of some sort even years from now. I think there’s just, people are seeing that there’s value there for a number of reasons. So I think that’s going to be interesting to see moving forward.

Chip Griffin: I think fundamentally you, you attend in-person and virtual events for entirely different reasons. I think, I think that the people that a lot of people sort of miss that, uh, that concept and instead think, you know, virtual is replacing in person and they’re not. They’re different things. I mean an in-person event is much more about the interaction you have with other attendees and panelists outside of the formal structure. That’s the real value that you get from going in person. Whereas virtual, it is the content that you’re consuming. Right? Cause you don’t typically have, at least I haven’t seen a good virtual event that has a good way to really encourage that same sort of interaction between attendees.

It’s just, it’s hard to do in a virtual way. You don’t have, you know, the, the bar to go to. I mean, you you’ve seen the virtual happy hours. Ucch.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: I mean, you are so on point with that because, and especially that word replaced. Because you saw, I think early on, I know we got feedback from marketers and prospects.

We talked to in our own agency, clients of attending a show like that, where they tried to emulate the in-person, like you said, and, um, and to be fair in the beginning, no one knew what they were doing. I guess, at least give some of them a pass, let me put it that way, but the ones that were still trying to do it, I think you’re right.

I think maybe that’s why that marketer marketing marketer percentage drops. Because you’re not, yeah. It’s not a replacement for that. And I think, um, I agree with you I’ve yet to see. And I I’ve only had two or three instances of me personally going, but even just anecdotally. Hearing that no, I didn’t like that part of it was not great, you know, it just wasn’t effective. And so I think that, that’s a great point.

Chip Griffin: I mean, you know, the other thing with virtual events is it’s much easier for people to say, okay, this sucks, I’m just done and then just close their browser. Right? I mean, it’s that simple. If I’ve traveled to New Orleans for a conference. You know, I mean, you can sort of do the same thing by just staying in your hotel room and go to the bar early and those kinds of things, but, you know, so it has to be a much more compelling content experience in virtual.

It does, which again, sort of flips on, on its head, the way it is with in person events, where it may be just get a marquee speaker in there to lure them in. And then people will find so much benefit in the hallway conversations and other things that they’ll, um, you know, that they’ll still enjoy their experience.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Yep. No, totally agree. And, um, yeah, I know we’ve got a new business conference live in Chicago that we are a sponsor of in May, end of May. And that’s all, I mean, that’s all in person. No virtual piece of that at all. So it’ll be interesting to see. And from what I understand, the attendance is already, the numbers are pretty good.

So yeah, I think folks will be ready. I mean, by May, knock on wood. Right, for sure. Um, yeah, but so that, that was, you know, in terms of just trade shows and, and I think the, the, the piece of it where agencies were, we’re finding a good chunk of their new, new business from. Um, it’ll be interesting to see how much of that comes back.

Um, I just, I, I think, I think events are obviously are coming. They’re not going anywhere, but how much new new business agencies get from those moving forward is going to be interesting.

Chip Griffin: Right. And I think that, that goes to, you know, the overall idea of that as an agency, you need to be looking at a variety of tools and techniques in order to grow your business.

You can’t put all your eggs in one basket because too many things can potentially disrupt that. Now that doesn’t mean you should be doing everything, right. I think you and I have certainly talked about this before about, you know, if you, if you try to do a million things and you do them all in, you know, a halfway way or less than half way, What’s the point.

So, you know, but pick a couple of things that, that you can be consistent on, be good at, and, and that’s, you know, a good way to grow your business. And so to me, that’s sort of a segue into some of the other research that you all have done about other approaches that people can use to business development for agencies.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Yeah. And that’s, that’s actually a good segue into, um, we didn’t, well, we touched on it, but I had thrown out to you that I wanted to mention an RFP story that I had in this preface. This does lead in, and I think it’s serendipitous because I think you mentioned that you and Gini just did your podcast, is that released yet or is that coming?

Chip Griffin: It’s not released yet. So people will, you’ll have to stay tuned and subscribe to the Agency Leadership Podcast feed to hear our latest discussion about RFPs.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: And Chip gave me no money for that. I mean, that’s just, that’s just a straight-up plug.

Chip Griffin: That is perfect. I mean, it’s almost like, you know what you’re doing on these kinds of shows, Lee.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Look, we’re trying. This is actually I’ll do a shorter version, but people are going to groan and be able to completely any agencies that are watching or that do watch.

So over the course, this is about three or four weeks ago, or over the course of one week, three different agencies. One that was actually a client that had come on board, that had this strategy in place with RFPs and I’ll get to, well, that pretty much was the strategy, but. Did not work at all. Uh, talked to an agency who was thinking about coming on board with us, who was just about to embark on this strategy and specifically the strategy of their new business.

Okay. New, new business was only going to be going after RFPs. That’s it. And I kind of had an internal gasp that in 2022 an agency would actually that that’s truly their strategy. And by the way, they weren’t in the verticals where you have to do that. We talked about this a little bit, like higher ed, CDBs, you know, no, they just thought that’s what we’re going to do.

And I wasn’t gonna be the self-serving jerk to say, oh my Lord, don’t please don’t do that. But I, you know, one thing we did talk about was just putting your team through that. Even if you’re winning some of those, they are going to rebel at some point. Just forget everything else about that strategy for a second.

And then I had a third agency who was thinking of going on board in that same week, uh, that had mentioned to me, uh, healthcare. And I said, you know, we’re, we’re actually pretty strategic about our fees. We don’t do a ton of them, when we do, we’re doing the homework upfront and we tend to win them. Um, and not to brag here, but we, what we do because we really vet these pretty well.

He goes, but this one, this past week, Was different. We weren’t able to vet it, it kind of came in through another agency or, you know, Hey, these guys are great in healthcare. However, it did, it wasn’t a normal process and they were one of 18. Oh my sweet Lord. And I wish we were able to tell this agency cause this, this is the last conversation of that week.

And I was like, they’re still doing 18 in 2022. And he’s like, you know what, thank God we actually didn’t make it past the first round. Because when we found out we were one of eighteen. We almost bailed, but we thought that’s not very professional, so yeah. Let’s keep going. He’s like, that’s the one, that’s the time where we were very pleased that we didn’t go any further.

Cause what a cattle call and a nightmare. So I just there’s my story, but I just thought my Lord today to have that as your only strategy. I can’t imagine.

Chip Griffin: I mean, RFPs as an agency growth strategy is sort of like smoking as a weight loss strategy. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Did you just make that up? Have you been saving that? I love that.

Chip Griffin: I just had, you know, it just, it just came to me Lee. I mean, while we were talking, so…

Lee McKnight, Jr.: I’m stealing it.

Chip Griffin: I mean, look, it might work, but the side effects may not be particularly pleasant. So. Yeah. I mean, and, you know, you talk about the, you know, the 18 participants and that was actually the, the impetus for the discussion that Gini had on our podcast, because there, there was a PR agency owner who said that he was invited to participate in an RFP process.

He asked how many other agencies were invited and they wouldn’t tell him. Uh, and so he, he bowed out and look, I mean, RFPs, as you’ve noted, there are some industries we have to play the RFP game. You just don’t have a choice, but you do have a choice which RFPs you’re going to participate in. And if you’re not already involved in conversations with someone, your odds of success are infinitesimally low, and you have to calculate the cost of all of those lost RFPs when you’re looking at, you know, okay. I win one out of 10 RFPs. I’m so excited because it was a giant contract. Fantastic. Subtract the cost of all of those RFP responses from the profits on that one that you did win.

Is it still worth it? Probably not, but, okay. So, so events are kind of a crapshoot RFPs. We, you know, we’ve dumped on that. So, so what should agencies be doing if they want to grow in 2022?

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Yeah, here’s a stat I love from the report. And, and I will say, so we released a report there at the end of the year, last year and it was, and we talked about it, I think, it was a little dour. But what was so great about this report? I thought in so many ways not to be a Pollyanna because you know, this is that things are still happening pandemic wise, but a lot of optimism coming out of this report. So this one, I love this, this stat is actually gone up for the past five years and it’s on content.

So when we’re talking about things that are working for agencies, I know some agencies probably just froze up. They’re watching hearing that, like, please don’t tell me about how much content I have to create, but it was, um, where is my stat? I just totally lost it. Ultimately let me see. Oh here we go, we asked marketers that they read agency created content in any form.

The answer was 77% of marketers say they do. And last year it was 73 the year before it was 64. It’s it’s gone up and up. I mean, to me, that’s a huge number. And during the pandemic, a lot of agencies, ones that have been around for a long time had never done content before. Right. And they’re like, you know what?

Now, either we have some time or we’re all stuck at home, we’re going to do this. We’re going to make a go of it. And, you know, keeping up with that, obviously always no matter where you are in the world or what’s happening, has always been a challenge for agencies just like ongoing new businesses. But to me, I wanted to shout that to the rooftops and tell these agencies, you know what, it’s hard, it’s hard to get it in and write a post and put it on LinkedIn on a, on some kind of ongoing basis.

They are, you’re not in a vacuum. These marketers are reading your content. And we asked a follow-up question and this one, wasn’t a surprise. What’s the platform that you read it on most? LinkedIn, no shock there typically. Right. But that just goes to show if you are an agency, you know, build it, and they will not come.

You have to get it into their hands and by hands I’m meaning whether it’s on LinkedIn, on your blog, shooting out to them, even when you’re prospecting and you have to do that in a nuanced, a bit of a way. Throwing it out on them. Right. But it just shows that they are reading your stuff, especially for small to mid-size agencies, which are the bulk of who are that we work with.

And I know you’re here, we are at spark in terms of small agencies and your target ship. Um, that to me was fantastic. And I hope, you know, and I’ve mentioned this to many firms, like keep going, they they’re, they’re reading it. It is a longer tail proposition. It is. But if you’re doing it well, Yeah. So I think that’s great.

You’re not, you’re not alone, agencies. If you’re creating content, it’s getting there.

Chip Griffin: Well and, and creating content has so much value even beyond the fact that you’re now you’ve got something that you can talk to a prospect about, right? Because the mere act of creating that content can be beneficial to you and your team.

If you’re creating a podcast, the relationships that you’re developing, the information that you’re getting from the interviews and the conversations that you’re having are beneficial. If you’re writing blog posts or articles for LinkedIn, or doing a LinkedIn newsletter, you know, which is the new popular thing to do, it seems based on, you know, the, the number that show up in my inbox every day.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: I want to go back to that but keep going. Sorry.

Chip Griffin: Yeah. So, it gives you that opportunity to, you know, coalesce your own thinking, and get it out there. And so that’s useful and it’s too many agencies, I think, avoid this because they think, oh, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s too much work. It’s too much hassle it’s, I can’t, I don’t, I don’t want to let people in on the secret sauce. They need to hire me for that.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Oh, I hate that one.

Chip Griffin: That one’s stupid. I mean, that ‘s –

Lee McKnight, Jr.: That one just drives me nuts.

Chip Griffin: If what you post on LinkedIn is you’re the sum total of your value. Uh, you know, close up shop, throw the keys away, be done with that because that’s just, that’s that’s bonkers.

Cause it’s the same with people who are like, well, you know, I don’t want to take a phone call with someone, you know, and, and share ideas unless they’re going to pay me. Why? Is that 30 minutes, gonna completely solved their problem. In which case they probably shouldn’t hire you anyway.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Right. So true, yeah, go back to the LinkedIn newsletters, but I wanted to bring that up.

Okay. I saw that Gini, I – have you done, have you tried to do that yet?

Chip Griffin: I have not done that yet, but I seem to be about the only person and I believe you’re doing it. In fact, I think that’s what spurred me to nudge you for this particular episode?

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Oh, thanks for reading, Chip. Um, well, listen, I, you know, we talk about what’s going to help agencies grow.

Uh, I would give it a shot, especially if you’re the principal and you are exactly right. And I’ve got, I’ve gotten quite a few of them too. But I did see my own numbers and I’m in no way, shape or form any kind of influencer or even close to it. But when I would post an article, not a post on LinkedIn, but you know, an actual long, longer form kind of like a blog post.

I got, I got some reads, but I I’ll be fully transparent with your audience here, and some of those though, it would be like 80 or a hundred, you know, in the first day or so when I did the newsletter, the initial reads were 3 and 4 and 500.. Yeah, pretty awesome. And yeah, and the thing is I am pretty conscious about my LinkedIn strategy in terms of who I follow and connect with and we tell our agencies the same thing.

And I think, I think most people that get it, that that’s supposed to be LinkedIn, but the folks that are reading that are mostly agencies or folks like yourself who were in the, in the world. Right. Uh, you know, and so it’s been good. Um, the key is yes, ton of people are doing it. But I read an interesting article on account of another person.

So forgive me person for not crediting you properly, but, um, you know, we know that, you tell me what percentage you think it is, Chip? 85% of the people doing their newsletter right now will not be doing it uh, six weeks from now, even right? They’re… It’s hard to keep up. It is. So if you can play that long game, just like with content, I tend to say to agencies, give it a shot as if, especially if you’re already creating content, right.

Go on up there and try it. But yes, right now I can, I mean, I don’t know if people are gonna get newsletter fatigue. Uh, we’ll see. Cause you’re right. I mean, Two or three of those in my LinkedIn inbox every day.

Chip Griffin: Well, I mean, there’s an advantage to being one of the early movers on that sort of thing. So, so if you start early, if you stay consistent, then I think that, you know, that you have a considerable leg up even as more and more people do it.

Cause I think at some point it probably will become popular enough that you know, that people stop paying attention. Yeah, because you can only read so many, right. I mean, but the nice thing with Linkedln is it makes it super simple for someone to subscribe to it. Right? This is not like you go to a website, you’ve got to type in your email address and hit submit, you know, maybe confirm, you know, the, the email that comes to you.

I mean, LinkedIn it’s literally is, you know, you get invited and you just. Yup. Sure.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Yeah. And we’re looking at it as a solid add to what we’re already doing. Um, so, right. So there’s that. Um, so another from the report, if I may, and it’s near and dear to our hearts is agency specialization. We can do a whole show just on that.

Chip Griffin: Absolutely. I prefer to call it focus rather than specialization.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: I do like that better because, and I’m actually glad you went in that way because, you know, I know there’s an eye roll from any agencies watching. Oh, from many of them that say, look, I get it, all these consultants and you all telling us, we have to specialize.

We’re a generalist agency. We’re doing fine. Especially during the pandemic. Uh, you know, so and I would never be one to argue against results because that would be foolish. But, so what we had asked marketers in terms of the report itself, we asked, let’s see, were they more likely to -the specific question, were they more likely to look for a specialty agency versus a full service agency looking forward in the next two and three years. So we had actually seen three years of decline in the percentage of marketers, more likely to look for a specialty agency and until 2020. So we saw an increase. So it was 52% that said they were more likely to look in 2020, and that jumped to 60% in 2021.

So it’s, it’s increasing. And it’s interesting because in tandem with another stat and we can talk about in-house agencies in December AdWeek released a report – not I’m not, I mean, it’s AdWeek. So I mean, they don’t even know who we are, but a little bit, we’ve been in a few times, you know, humblebrag, but they put out a report that said, It’s increasing.

And I was thinking, just going up, up, up, you know, and it’s like, okay. And our report, it was just the exact opposite. And I think it was because it was mostly small to mid-sized agencies that were, that were responding and commensurately the types of marketers that are working with them, not that small, mid-size companies, just don’t work with big companies because they do.

But, um, the in-house agencies were decreasing by quite a percentage, like a 25 to, I think it was at 25 or 30% drop, which if you’re an agency is like, awesome. Because I know, you know, you have to play nice in the sandbox. But if they’re doing that and that’s it, that is decreasing and we see that play out, it’s just right.

More opportunity for agencies. But going back to the specialization piece, I think, you know, it’s, it’s, it doesn’t mean you have to be a CPG agency and that’s all you do. Right. So I tell agencies this, when they, when they do give me that eye-roll cause I’m like to your point it’s focus. Right?

Chip Griffin: Yeah. And I think that’s the key and it’s, it’s why I use focus instead of specialization or niching down or those kinds of things.

Because, because those are things that, that just scare agencies, as soon as they hear it, they’re like, wow, that’s, that’s not me. Or I don’t, that would be boring if I did that. Or any number of the litany of excuses that I hear, but you know, when you start to think about it as focus and you start to think about, okay, you know, if I’m going to be running this business, I need to have real clarity over who my ideal clients are, and they’re not.

And you get that only by developing your focus. Right? And if you just say that, you know, I’m a generalist agency and you don’t put any other qualifications on that, you can’t be all things to all people. Right? Right. I mean the same agency that serves, you know, the, the mom and pop restaurant in Concord, New Hampshire, isn’t going to serve a fortune 100 company in New York city.

Right. It’s just. It just is not going to happen. And so you need to know who you serve, what you serve them with. You need to understand what your most profitable clients are. I mean, this is, this is one of the things that drives me bonkers. When an agency can’t tell me who their most profitable clients are, we need to know that because you want more of them.

And I can guarantee you, you have profitable clients and you have less profitable clients. Maybe, maybe even God forbid unprofitable clients. So you need to know these things and you need to have some kind of focus around it. So I, you know, I think it is absolutely essential that agencies be thinking about.

It gives you a real edge when you’re talking with that prospect in the business development conversation, as you’ve noted. Um, you know, I’m not sure that that most clients think in terms of specialist versus generalist, except perhaps when they’re responding to a survey, right. It’s, it’s more….can you solve my problem? Do you seem to have the expertise to solve my problem? Does it feel like a good fit and, and I think that if you’re a, if you have a focus, you’re much more likely to pass that test.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Hundred percent agree. I do like – I’m stealing that from you too. That’s two things today, Chip. I like focus better.

Chip Griffin: I’ll send you an invoice.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: That’s fine. Because you know what, that, that focus also goes back to where we start.

Well, not exactly where – the content piece, where with that focus comes, that expertise, that those prospects and those marketers are seeing. And if you don’t have it, and I’ve talked to agencies that are in this position, The site is all over the place, their contents, all over the place. It just, that focus also brings into focus. – see what I did there? – Everything else you’re doing in terms of that business development and your strategy without that, man, it makes it so much harder. And I see the agencies that are in that position struggle mightily. And when that focus comes, you see the light bulb literally see it in their eyes, like, okay. Yes. That, that makes total sense.

Why haven’t we been doing it this way? So I think, yeah…

Chip Griffin: It lets you be more effective at hiring, it lets you be more efficient in your processes, which drives your profitability. Right? Because if you’re, if you’re doing a similar kind of workforce, similar clients, not identical -cookie cutter and all that, but if you’re developing that expertise, so you get better at you produce better results in less time, that’s good for your clients and it’s good for your bottom line.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Yes. Yep. No, totally. Yeah. And so, and so I, you know, with that, and I wish we could put all that on a bumper sticker for agencies, because – just don’t be scared. Uh, and again, I do like focus better sincerely and in all seriousness, I think that would put folks more at ease rather than coming in hard with specialization, you know?

Cause they do hear that a lot, I get it.

Chip Griffin: Yeah. And I mean, and it’s, it’s something I didn’t, you know, develop right out of the gate. It’s because I had a lot of conversations with agencies and, and saw that reaction. And I, I started to get a better reaction when I said focus. People like, okay, I think you’re saying, I kind of hear that, that, that makes sense.

I’m not going to, you know, just get my back up and reject your advice out of hand when you start talking that way. So, um, but that – unfortunately, we’re at the end of the time we have available the time has, has really flown. And you mentioned a bumper sticker. So now it’s time to bring in a prop.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: It is. So this is a good one.

Now wait, it’s not – oh, a real blow fish and a lamp. How awesome is that?

It’s a little disturbing. It’s kind of weird.

Chip Griffin: It is. It is, it was a little weird, particularly on camera. I think that may translate a little bit better in person. Um, and of course, for those of you who are listening to the podcast, audio only version of this, you don’t get to see it.

So I will just encourage you to go to small agency.tv and subscribe to the YouTube channel so that you can see these, and maybe you even want to participate live because we’re happy to integrate your comments. Okay. Sure whether they’re snarky or insightful. Sure. That’s kind of like the show we’re snarky and insightful all at the same time.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Love it.

Chip Griffin: So with that, that’s going to draw to an end today’s episode of the Small Agency Talk Show. Lee McKnight, I’ve been delighted to have you here. I look forward to having you back again. You bring substance, humor, and just great conversation.

Lee McKnight, Jr.: Thank you so much for having me, Chip. Yeah, I really enjoy it. It’s always fun and it gets some good stuff out of it too.

And go Bengals. Right? So with that, I’m going to sign off everybody have a great weekend. And I look forward to seeing you all back here again next week.

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