Agencies That Build


The experiences and best practices from top digital agency leaders.

Is Self Care Overrated? - Michael Kelly - Episode #38
Michael Kelly is the Managing Partner at Developer Town that works with established companies to create software aimed at key business problems or opportunities.  Michael helps corporate leaders and founders craft a vision for new products by working with them to put together strategies, teams, and funding to help launch, validate, and grow those products and businesses. Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust?  2:27How do you find outlets for energy on harder days: 8:00Agencies talk about impacting society with their culture and environment. What does this mean to you? 22:25 How has the experience been working with contractors? 35:58How does the open book concept work and how does the finance work when you work with other agencies? 45:42What's exciting you about the future? 51:44 Takeaways: If you're not deeply energized by the work that you're doing, and it's not the thing that's fulfilling you, then maybe that's more of a sign of a problem than a sign that you need to take time away and recharge.In the total human experience, this concept of leisure, that we're very focused on right now in today's world, is such a small part of the human experience. Leisure is a very, very new idea.We're made to work, we're made to produce and we're made to take care of each other and we're made to challenge one another.Our clients are only successful to the extent that we're successful.What I want to be the best in the world at is helping companies build and launch new digital products.To build a product, you need to understand a market, you need to understand your customer, you need to understand the competition, you need to understand the context in which you're building and deploying this thing. Product launch engages every element of what we do as a business, design, marketing, software development, engineering, data, science, all the DevOps.We want to make sure everybody in the business knows how we make money. We want to make sure they know how much we're making or how little their mate we're making, unless it's a global pandemic. And we want to make sure that they know, we win as a firm, that everybody wins through profit sharing.So when you have an unhappy client, it's not about that client, this is a seed that has been planted, is this seed going to bear fruit? Or is this seed going to bear weeds, you do not want weeds if you're an agency owner.From a market perspective, as an agency, we are choosing to lean into financial services and healthcare as two industries that we want to do more in, we're going through high trust certification right now, we're trying to get the regulatory house in order. Links  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/developertown/Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeldkelly/Twitter: https://twitter.com/developertownFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/developertownInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/developertown/Company website: https://developertown.com/   Busted Myths: Self Care is all about Leisure.
Apr 29 2022
53 mins
Sales and Marketing Go Hand in Hand - Julia Becker Collins - Episode #37
Julia Becker Collins is the Chief Operating Officer at Vision Advertising that specializes in inbound marketing programs. Vision advertising is a woman-owned, women-run organization that aims to build an economy of equal wealth and opportunity.   Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust? 2:28What do sales and marketing people need to do to make them work together as a team? 4:28What are those things that you recommend people to do as a part of the nurturing program to move the leads forward in the pipeline? 12:48How do you keep the team motivated? How do you guys function? 18:05Tell us more about your hiring process. 25:52What is the biggest mistake you made as an agency owner? 30:08Tell us a little bit about how you got into this business. 38:20What keeps you up at night? 44:42   Takeaways  Sales and marketing teams need to understand that in order to succeed, they need to be holding hands.We have two things that are superpowers. One is how we communicate. And it's both internally with the team and externally with our clients. And the other is being transparent, honest, and open.The best way to understand working for Julia and vision advertising is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.You should always say what you're thinking, but you're always gonna get feedback!Setting employees and clients up for success is the goal and to do that you need to communicate clearly.When you have a new hire, the biggest challenge is to make sure they know what they're supposed to do.I don't like being the smartest person in the room. I don't want to know everything. I want to hire people that know more than I do. So I might know the most about leadership, but somebody on my team is gonna know way more than me about graphic design, SEO or presenting a live webinar for that matter.If you are a marketing agency, and you're not doing your own marketing, create a marketing plan like we did for our own agency, and start marketing yourself and prioritizing yourself as a client.   Links  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julia-becker-collins/Twitter: https://twitter.com/JuliaRivkaInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/juliarivka/Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/vision-advertising/Website: https://www.vision-advertising.com/ Busted Myths: The relationship between sales and marketing should be siloed.
Apr 18 2022
47 mins
The best decisions are ones that can always be reassessed - Brett Snyder - Episode #36
Brett Snyder is the founder and CEO of Knucklepuck. Brett built Knucklepuck with a holistic digital philosophy, assembling a team of experts in SEO, Paid Media, Content Marketing, and Web Development that is uniquely positioned to adapt to clients’ evolving business needs.   Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust?  1:53How did you get into this business? 5:56Tell us more about your experience with customers. 11:48How do you keep the team motivated? 18:38Tell us more about your hiring process. 25:18What's your favorite interview question? 41:40What is your understanding of success? 48:07What is Brettgammon? 52:40   Takeaways  A lot of people, in the startup world, or running a company, spend so much time putting agreements in place because we want to adhere to those agreements forever and forever.If you're in a leadership position you have to make the best decision, given the circumstances that you have. And then as those circumstances change, you have to be willing to reassess your decisions.Every decision is the right decision when you make it - JessieThere's always an option! Nobody is here in a prison state that has to continue working for a client that abuses them or their team.Everybody tries to accumulate leverage, I would argue, but it's kind of like playing a video game and stashing a whole bunch of inventory and then getting to the final boss and not using any of it! And so if you're going to collect this leverage, you have to apply it.“And I think that's where leverage really comes into play, where you just have to be willing and able to go out there and say, This is what I need for me and for my team. And I think that's the big part about leadership and a CEO role in particular”. - Brett“And I think it's one thing to say we don't require a college degree, it's another to look at the majority of the people on the team stating a college degree in their bio. Um, but we really want to be able to look at our roles as a digital company and say, does a college degree help here? I'm not sure it helps for most roles or as required for most roles. But can we at least give people the opportunity to apply, knowing that their lack of a college degree is not going to be something that will hold them back?”- BrettSuccess is a very individualized metric. It's defined very differently for every individual. And I think I'm no exception to that.   Links  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brettasnyder/Twitter: https://twitter.com/KnucklepuckDCInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/knucklepuckdc/Company Website: https://www.knucklepuckmedia.com/   Busted Myths: You don’t have to honor your agreements.
Mar 31 2022
57 mins
Why Marketing Is Still Underrated?- JC Grubbs - Episode #35
JC Grubbs founder and CEO of Tandem, formerly known as DevMynd. Tandem is an end-to-end product development and innovation firm with services including business strategy, user research, UX/UI design, product management, software development, hardware design, and managed services.   Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust?  2:42How do you generate the leads? 9:20What are some of the marketing tactics that you guys have found? 12:05What percentage of time do you usually spend on building networks and connections? 16:53Give us a little rundown on your hiring model. 28:55Do you have any tricks and tips for cultural building within an agency? 35:19What is the best part of running a business? 43:52How did you get into this business? 46:40Can you tell us the story of where you started to get into the agency world? 52:00What keeps you up at night? 57:42   Takeaways  We choose to compete against the client as opposed to competing against a competitor. In fact, we're choosing to compete against the client's understanding of how we would solve their problem. And that's the challenge for us in the process of closing a deal.You can get a lot of bang for your buck, if you're just giving people a little bit of attention, here and there.My goal always was, Can I meet one new person a week? Yeah, you know, one new person a week and one person I haven't talked to for a while and re-engage with them - JessieIt might sound harsh, but if somebody really isn't valuable, don't just move on. There are people out there that end up really just being time thieves. And you spend a lot of time that is just not valid. There are people out there that end up really just being time thieves. And you spend a lot of time that is just not valid. And as you progress through your career, you build this sixth sense of like, Oh, I've met this person and they're a nice human being, but in the context of business, they're not going to be helpful but they're going to keep wanting to take. And you need to move on to another relationship where there's both give and take.If somebody is at the company, and isn't the right fit for our clients, for our values, for the way that we want to work, we're both doing each other a disservice by not disengaging from that relationship.The kindest thing to do sometimes is to disengage.    Links  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jcgrubbs/Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/thegrubbsian/Company website: https://madeintandem.com/   Busted Myths: Sales is Overrated and Marketing is underrated
Mar 24 2022
59 mins
The Most Skilled Candidate isn’t Always the Right Candidate - Haley Stracher - Episode #34
Haley Stracher is the founder of Iris Design Collaborative, and an expert designer and marketing strategist. With more than 8 years of experience in graphic design and UI/UX, she has led creative teams at major publications and companies including the Chicago Tribune, American Osteopathic Association, and the University of Florida.   Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust?  2:20Tell us more about your experience and process. 3:41How do you facilitate the collaboration? 12:06 Do you have any tricks, tips, and tricks for maintaining the bonding between employees? 14:20How did you get into this business? 16:10What's the theme strength? 19:42How do you guys find clients? 21:10How did you overcome the fear of saying no to your clients? 25:12What are the best practices that have given you more accurate estimates in the beginning? 27:25How does your pricing model work? 30:22What would you say was kind of one mistake that you made. 37:07What keeps you up at night? 40:06   Takeaways  Platforms are always changing. There are new design softwares rolling out all the time. But, the eagerness to learn, the excitement and passion is really what makes most amazing team members.Hiring is hard, finding great team members is as hard; As an agency owner, you know, your team members are a huge part of what you do.Everything that you say yes to, you're saying no to something else. Having the power to say ‘NO’ to your sales lead, having that strength to say, “No, I don't think we are the right fit” is a huge thing. It can help you win bigger deals, but not everyone thinks like that. - VarunWith the pricing of the contract versus the hourly component of it, the best way to manage that is to know how long a project takes with some of the standards. And then the upcharge is the nice way to say that for when they want to add on things. Set realistic goals for yourself because your team learns from you as a leader.    Links  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/haley-s-04b29939/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/irisdesigncollab/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/irisdesigncollab/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/iris-design-collaborative/ Company website: https://www.irisdesigncollaborative.com/   Busted Myths: The most technically skilled person may not be the best person to hire onto your team.
Mar 16 2022
43 mins
Will SAAS Die in the Near Future?- Bob Armbrister - Episode #33
Bob Armbrister is the President and CEO of SPARK Business Works. Bob has led SPARK to serve hundreds of clients using a business-first approach to custom software. He leans on his experience as CIO at a national construction management firm to implement "The SPARK Way" – an approach of practical innovation that helps business leaders build tech that gets adopted (and brings ROI). Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust?  2:22Tell us more about your experience with the SAAS products. 3:21How does your billing model work? 6:20What were your exit plans to shape your decisions? 9:20Tell us more about your statement developers are winning.13:40How is your business set up now? 18:00Tell us about some of the experiences that you had, during the process of buying other agencies. 21:30What would you say was kind of one mistake that you made. 24:00Tell us about how you got into this business. 23:32Is there any tip or trick that you use to keep your employee's stay? 28:00 How have things changed w/COVID? 30:50 How do you manage your team? 34:20How have you kept the team connected? 36:31Tell us about your experience with offshoring? 39:13What keeps you up at night? 49:00   Takeaways  You don't have to make sure that your idea is going to be the winner, if you're the one, servicing the entrepreneur and so.The biggest thing in a SaaS business is churn. You're constantly trying to figure out churn, why are people leaving? What aren't you doing? What features do you need, you're trying to guess.Not everybody has the same exit plan or the same strategy in terms of what growth looks like. - JessieThe pressure on software-based markets is also the same as the service-based markets.Entrepreneurs get it right one in a million.The more experience you have, the more value you can add to the customer.The more failures we have made in the past, make us able to not repeat them with future customers.The Discovery of a problem is absolutely important. But at the same time, the person who is making that discovery also plays a huge role. - Varun Links  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobarmbrister/Company website: https://www.sparkbusinessworks.com/   Busted Myths: Custom software is going to be needed for a long time.
Mar 7 2022
52 mins
Adding Capacity to an Agency- Aaron M Welch - Episode #32
Managing Partner at Lift Digital Marketing, a Full-Service Digital Marketing Agency specializing in generating leads for businesses.  Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust? (Myth 1) 1:44What type of marketing services that you offer that do not require long-term agreements and How do you define your success metrics? 3:30(Myth 2) 12:22How does your billing model work? 21:20Tell us about how you got into this business. 23:32Is there any tip or trick that you can share? 32:50How is your business set up now? 35:19Tell us more about success and failures on working with freelancers and contractors model. 37:35How do you manage your team? 41:59What keeps you up at night? 47:03How do you see the future of your agency? 49:04 Takeaways  It can be a leap of faith to sign a contract, a six-month contract, or a year-long contract for somebody you have just interviewed80% of client service is managing expectations.Explaining somebody, teaching something to somebody, and then seeing that light bulb come on for them, that's an awesome feeling!Everybody wants to hire somebody that's already baked. And that's why there are fewer jobs at the top and a dearth of jobs at the bottom.With the willingness to develop people, there's a never-ending potential for talent.When somebody says ‘yes’, it means that they're hearing you but not necessarily understanding you. You got to be real clear on conveying that understanding and being on the same page.   Links  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronwelch/Twitter: https://twitter.com/aaronmwelchCompany website: https://lift-digital.net/Personal website: https://aaronmwelch.com/ Busted Myths: The need for long-term contracts.You don’t need to collect payment upfront.
Jan 5 2022
54 mins
Design and Development are not Separate Disciplines. - Tamara Olson - Episode #31
Tamara is the Owner and Head of Operations at Studio Simpatico. Simpatico is a creative agency based out of Manhattan, providing a variety of services from user experience (UX) design & research, branding and identity, to mobile and web design, WordPress development and maintenance, and packaging/print collateral.    Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust? 1:25What type of system and processes have you adopted? 4:50Are there tools that you use specifically to manage your projects? 6:55When you started a business, what was your vision? How is turning down the clients and projects helping you grow and scale? 8:52How has your small-sized firm helped you and differentiate from other people or competitors? 15:50What's the seniority level on your team? 17:30What made you quit your corporate job and then start an agency and how did it all start? 19:38What is the biggest mistake you made as an agency owner? 20:41How have things changed w/COVID? 22:14How do you maintain the culture in the team? How do you keep them motivated? 23:10What's your favorite kind of sandwich? 25:30What's the one thing that clients do that drives you bananas? 28:10If you were going to identify a superpower for your agency, what would you say is your superpower amongst you? 33:27As a small child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 36:09What keeps you up at night? 37:45What are you looking at for the future for your agency for growth? 41:11 Takeaways  Design and development are not separate disciplines. The design affects how you're going to approach development, so is development affected by design.Introducing people who aren't on the same page about how that process flow is going to go, can introduce a lot of inefficiencies.Saying no, when we don't feel that we can provide, is the name of the game in a lot of respects.There are different purposes for why we do what we do, and the way that we do it. -JessieMost things can be sorted out if the clients are asking for something, and maybe they don't quite understand something, that's where a little bit of mentorship goes a long way. Links   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tamaraolson/Twitter: https://twitter.com/tolsondesignsCompany LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/studio-simpatico/Company website: https://studiosimpati.co/ Busted Myths:  When you have a problem, throwing people at the problem will fix the problem.
Dec 14 2021
42 mins
To Teach is to Learn- Michael Marsiglia - Episode #30
Co-CEO at Atomic Object, where he works at the intersection of business and technology. Michael’s firm helps clients to research, identify, and create the right software products to suit their unique business needs. Atomic Object designs and builds web, desktop, mobile and embedded software products for clients ranging from Large scale businesses to SMEs and Startups, in diverse markets spanning automotive, healthcare, financial services, education, distribution and entertainment.   Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust? 2:59How has your strategy helped you build your company? 7:09What are your thoughts on the misconception in the market around the word sales? 10:47Can you give us a quick rundown on your career accelerator program? 21:30What did you do to make your  career accelerator program work? 26:00How have things changed w/COVID? :32:25How do you do your pricing with your customers? 38:33How successfully or unsuccessfully have you been able to implement EOS in your team? 40:30What is one of the biggest mistakes that you've ever made? 51:30What keeps you up at night? 1:00:53 Takeaways  Buyers don't want to be sold, they want someone to solve their problem.Process the information on what other people are saying and react to it in a thoughtful manner. Listening is a big part of selling. We have one mouth, but two ears, so we should definitely be listening more than we're talking.It's a challenge finding the right person, it's finding the right person, that's the right fit for the company. “What if I can hire really smart, hungry people now and build a program that can very quickly, accelerate their career?” That was the premise behind the career accelerator program. - Michael Marsiglia“Teach and learn”- this is my favorite value mantra. - Michael MarsigliaCommunicate clearly and effectively and know when and how.   Links LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-marsiglia-0726736/Company website: https://atomicobject.com/Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/atomic-object/   Busted Myths: Designers and developers cannot sell.
Dec 7 2021
1 hr 3 mins
How to spend time on your own brand? - Marc Acton - Episode #29
Founder, CEO, and Chief Strategist for Alpha/Echo Agency, is a boutique marketing firm that helps exceptional companies grow, launch, and build. Alpha/Echo Agency is a group of smartisans—an unagency, fighting the good fight against unawesome work.    Discussion Points: What myth or bogus strategy do you want to bust? 1:39What type of work agencies don't think that they can do for themselves? 4:19How do you spend time on your own brand?  7:33 and 48:19Tell us about how you got into this business. 28:16What was the idea behind going after startups? How did that go? And where are you now? 30:00How have things changed w/COVID? 37:25How do you do your pricing with your customers? 41:30What frustrates you the most with the clients? 49:52What is one of the biggest mistakes that you've ever made? 54:40What keeps you up at night? 58: 22 Takeaways    There are two ways to be a product based agency; one is to create your own product and the other is to have a revenue share or partner based model.The problem with applying yourself to your own marketing is there's a farther distance between revenue generation.If your efforts aren't tied to compensation, or employee success metrics, then they're going to fail miserably.The success metrics are really tied to two things: 1: Manageable, achievable goals that you're setting for yourself. 2: The overall success of the company (in each budget).The system is only as good as the execution. - Marc ActonThere's two things that make a system successful: 1: Are people actually looking at it like that's the value of the system? 2: If you make it punitive, you're almost assured of not having success. The Great work would speak for itself.- Marc ActonOne of the tricks with clients is giving them two options, give them the one you like, and give them the one they asked for. - Jessie Links   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fastacton/Company website: https://alphaechoagency.com/Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/alpha-echo-agency/Largest independent RV magazine by Marc Acton: https://iheartrving.com/ Busted Myths: Agencies can't work for themselves.
Nov 29 2021
1 hr 2 mins
A proposal should not be to convince, it should be to confirm - Michael Lavista - Episode #28Does agency size matter? - Ran Craycraft - Episode #027
Ran Craycraft is the managing partner at Wildebeest, Wildebeest is a boutique tech & innovation partner for the world's most innovative brands. Wildebeest specializes in innovation, idea generation, and rapid prototyping.   Takeaways    Having a large firm does not imply that you will do more creative work or devote more time to your clients.When you are trying to address problems with clients, make sure that creative technology and strategy all have a place at the table.“I think it's really important to distinguish between when you're doing campaign work, or when you're building a platform, or product.” - RanWhen creating products and platforms, keep in mind that your client's success necessitates a holistic strategy.You must look for ways to enhance the concepts and whatever it is you're building by taking a creative concept and bringing it all together in a truly unique way.We want to stand for empathy, we want something that feels alive, we also want something that feels timeless. What is discovery? For us, it often means research. It means analysis of the data that we bring in. It means being creative. When we're thinking about discovery, we're trying to come up with as many different ideas as possible. This is an additive process, we're pulling everything on the table Links   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/craycraft/Company Website: https://wildebee.st/Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/wildebee-st/ Busted Myths:  A bigger agency is a better agency.
Nov 8 2021
47 mins
Embracing Agile Culture for Business Success  - Mike Stone - Episode #26Finding Insights amid Information Overload - Ross Patrick - Agencies That Build #025Fostering a Design Culture - Agencies That Build #24Discipline: Key to Agency Growth - Jeremy Durant - Agencies That Build #023Rethinking the American Dream - Nancy Lyons- Agencies That Build #022
Jun 29 2021
1 hr
UX in a Remote Culture - Erin Young - Agencies That Build #021
Jun 21 2021
41 mins
Acquisition 101 - Jeff Archibald - Agencies That Build #020
Jeff Archibald is the Managing Director of Paper Leaf, a full-stack website, app, and software development firm. Their products have received awards and accolades, and they are also recognized as one of Canada’s top firms by Strategy Magazine and Clutch.   Takeaways As an Agency Owner, you need to step out of roles that are not strategic and uses your time productively. It is difficult, but you have to make that shift from a tactical to a strategic mindset. This is quite crucial for the early growth phase.Organize your processes, divest the skill sets amongst the group, and become a profitable company. This is the right way to structure a business vis-a-vis someone simply showing an interest in acquiring your business. In case someone does show up, be a willing participant in those conversationsWhen considering an acquisition offer, do your due diligence, identify the financial red flags and ensure that any risks that you’re taking are mutually shared. “You need to understand that you're going to have to take on some risk, and the acquiring party is going to have to take on some risk. But if those balances ever get out of whack, then you need to be willing to walk away.” - JeffTo make your life easier, hire an attorney and an accountant, even if you happen to be familiar with the legalities of an acquisition.   Links: LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-archibald-b6904243 Paper Leaf - https://paper-leaf.com/     Busted Myths: Hustle glorification. The correlation that if you're working 60 or 80 hour weeks, you're somehow doing a better job than everybody else, or you're more deserving than somebody else.
Jun 15 2021
52 mins
The New Normal for Work - Mark Baldino - Agencies That Build #019
Mark Baldino is the Co-founder of Fuzzy Math, a user experience design, strategy, and innovation firm that solves difficult problems with a human-centered design approach and has helped establish design practices for upstart businesses and Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, and GE Healthcare. Takeaways If a resource is comfortable with working remotely then as an agency you should allow them to. An A+ resource is better remote than outside your company. As an agency things like culture happen naturally. If you’re living the values you preach, the team follows. Contrary to popular belief virtual meetings are more inclusive. There is an accessibility component to communication in a 100% virtual company.“When everyone's just a screen, you kind of treat everybody a little bit more equal. And I think that's a real benefit. And I think our clients can feel that and our team can feel that whether we're doing an internal kind of meeting, or we're doing a client workshop.” - Mark Sometimes you have to say no to good business just because it’s not the right fit for you, culturally or technologically.First contacts can determine if a client is good for you or not. If they’re having trouble understanding your culture and values then it’s not going to be any different with work. Links: LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/markbaldino/ Fuzzy Math - https://fuzzymath.com   Busted Myths: Communication in a 100% virtual company strains people and makes them less productive.
Jun 10 2021
48 mins