How to Make the Most of Your Marketing Agency Relationship, with Drew McLellan

Episode 138:

Drew McLellan is a marketing veteran who has run his own agency for over 25 years, helping clients create authentic love affairs with their customers. He also helps other agency owners learn how to take their business to the next level through cohort groups and resources through Agency Management Institute. He loves to create “Aha” moments for his clients, peers, and audiences across, through vivid storytelling, Italian heritage-inspired hand gestures, and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow.

Drew is also one of the world’s top marketing and branding bloggers according to Ad Age’s top 150 index. Recently, he has appeared in The New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him “One of the 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.”

On this episode of Destination on the Left host, I talk with Drew about what it takes to build a great relationship with your marketing agency. Getting your destination’s message out to your ideal customers is getting more complex, not less. Open communication and confidence in your agency are crucial. It’s a wide-ranging conversation with great tips on knowing what to look for and expect from a great agency.


What You Will Learn:

  • How to vet marketing agencies to find the right fit
  • Why finding an agency that specializes in destination marketing is important
  • How to have an open and honest relationship with your marketing agency
  • How to handle tough conversations with your agency
  • Best practices you should look for when hiring and working with an agency

Marketing Collaboration

We’re a long way from the Mad Men days. It’s no longer enough for an agency to swoop in to tell you the messages you need to spread, and purchase airtime and print space and make it to that 3 martini lunch by 11:30.

The channels available for your messages are almost limitless, and the work is much more complex. Clients and agencies are, or should be, working more collaboratively to discover customer personas, define the buyer’s journey, and craft the right messages to grow your business. In the conversation, Drew made this observation, “A great agency is really a great business advisor. It’s much broader than deciding what ad you are going to put on Facebook or running a radio spot.”

When it comes to agency relationships, marketing collaboration is the name of the game, you want an agency who plays that way.

Setting Expectations

A great agency relationship starts with good communication. This needs to happen at two levels. You need time and space to communicate voice-to-voice and face-to-face, along with the texting and email communication that happens while doing business. One piece of communication Drew mentions that clients and agencies too often overlook: gratitude. Saying thanks when your collaboration partner goes above and beyond the call of duty goes a long way in shaping a strong relationship.

The second part of setting clear expectations is getting it in writing. Also, put it in writing! Make a good contract that makes expectations clear. Drew’s vast experience leads him to the following conclusion: “Whatever the problem is, I promise you it’s not just the agency’s fault and it’s never just the client’s fault either.”

A great relationship with your marketing agency doesn’t just happen. This episode is full of tips, steps and best practices for making the most of your marketing dollars through that agency relationship.


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Episode Transcript

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