Could Hosting Agency Events Be the Key to Growth?

By Jason Swenk on January 20, 2020

Do you feel like a “me too” agency, but you’re not sure how to break the chains? Do you want to create a differentiator you can use to grow faster? The agency space is changing. With Facebook pushing business owners to create their own campaigns and hundreds of new agencies popping up monthly, it can be tough to grow. You probably feel like your trapped in a small room and in a rut. Don’t worry! There’s a way out.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 3 traits every agency owner needs.
  • Why your agency needs to create a differentiator.
  • 4 steps to creating and hosting agency events.

Today, I talked with Mike McCloud, President & CEO of MMA Creative and founder of the World Food Championships. Mike is a tried-and-true entrepreneur with agency DNA. Not only has Mike been in the agency space since 1991 (that’s 29 years now!), but he leveraged his agency to help him create the hyper-successful World Food Championships event. That event now generates 95% of MMA Creative’s revenue! So, how did an agency owner create a renowned food league with its own TV show and top-tier sponsors? Like this!

3 Traits Every Agency Owner Needs

Mike says these are the three traits every successful agency must have:

  1. Contrarianism: Is everybody selling Facebook ads? Then you shouldn’t be. Winning as an agency owner requires lacing up your boots to go on the road less traveled. Opportunity is everywhere. Sure! You can be a “me too” agency and settle for the crumbs. But why wouldn’t you want the whole cake? You have to think outside-of-the-box. What is everyone doing wrong? What is everyone ignoring? Figure that out, and use it to grow.
  2. Optimism: When tough times come knocking, you better be ready to answer. We all know that an economic downfall is on the horizon. It may not be today, but it’s coming. And when it does, you need to be able to smile, sit down with your team, and figure out how to use that recession to your advantage. Never give up. Always have a trick up your sleeve. And persist through the good times and the not-so-good ones. Every agency owner is going to face situations where giving up is easier than pushing through.
  3. Experimentalism: This is a big one! You need to be willing to try new things. All of these blog posts and marketing podcasts aren’t going to tell you the next big thing. Once others have figured it out, it’s no “the next big thing” anymore. It’s just a thing. You have to experiment and find those amazing growth hacks yourself.

Why Your Agency Needs to Create a Differentiator

There are two big threats to agencies.

  1. Business owners can live without you. As an agency, you’re the middleman. Business owners can run Facebook ads without you. They can make creatives without you. And they can generate leads without you. They’re probably not as good as you are, but they can. And as long as they can, some will.
  2. There are thousands of other agencies offering what you have. If you’re a “me too” agency, you’re a commodity. If your pitches revolve around price, you’re racing to the bottom. Your strength shouldn’t be your price tag. But it often is.

Creating a differentiator eliminates those threats. What can you do that no one else can do? If you don’t have an answer, find one. Mike created an event. But you don’t have to. You can create an experience, a product, a service, or anything else your competitors can’t. I’ve interviewed agency owners who use strategic gifting, promote their freak factor, and even build tech, just to name a few.

They all share one thing in common. They do something unique in order to stand out.

4 Simple Steps to Creating and Hosting Agency Events

Use your agency to catapult growth. While your agency is generating revenue, use some of it to experiment and create an amazing differentiator. Here’s how Mike was able to create a massive food event using his agency as a springboard.

  1. Be profitable: Creating a product, service, event, or experience requires, well… cash. If your agency isn’t in the positive or you don’t have enough income to support yourself adequately, focus on that first. Learn how to build an evergreen agency. Differentiators don’t happen overnight. You’ll need income to help you build one.
  2. Find something valuable: What should you build? Great question! Here’s the answer — something that’s valuable to someone. Find a gap in the market and attack it. Did you notice there aren’t any agencies using VR tech for restaurants? That’s a gap! Get to work.
  3. Look at everything through an R&D filter: ABM = Always Be Experimenting. You’re probably not going to create something amazing on your first try. You’ll have some failures. Use some of your agency income to experiment with new strategies and services. Some of them may pay off dividends in the future.
  4. Have commitment: It took Mike 5 years for his food event to become popular. That’s a long time! You must be willing to commit to something and nurture it in order to succeed.

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