Do you know what frustrates the hell out of me as I scroll through my LinkedIn timeline or email inbox? Ridiculous, over-the-top claims. You see them, "Let me make you into a million-dollar producer overnight." “I can grow your business by 40% a year.” “I’ll turn you into a prospecting ninja.” "Our technology solution will help you lose 20 lbs., grow hair back where it hasn't grown in 20 years, stop hair from growing where you don't want it to, and generally make you the life of the party.”

Really? Do you think someone else can do any of that FOR you?

The ridiculous claims are frustrating enough, but what frustrates me, even more, is that people buy into it. Otherwise, business-savvy agency owners somehow think they can buy a solution to fix what ails their business.

The temptation is real

I do understand the temptation. We all want to be more successful. But, how do you build the type of success most agency owners aspire to have? You already know because it's how you grew your agency to what it is today: you did it through hard work and personal effort.

While the next level of success often requires new tools, resources, and partnerships, we can't forget that they also come with hard work, at least to get the full impact.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with finding help and guidance from others (we’ve built our business on that very foundation), but they can’t deliver success to you. The financial investment into these new solutions is only the starting point; you have to also make an investment of time and hard work. You will never get the full impact you’re looking for, and need, until you make this complete investment.

The missing effort

When looking to grow their agency, most agency owners look to a couple of related areas for their next improvement – technology and marketing. If it were as simple as writing a check to acquire these new resources, every agency would be a highly functioning, high-growth organization. They would have all the efficiencies and clarity that come through having the right technology solutions. They would also have prospects lined up at their door because their marketing efforts were magnetic.

That is so NOT the reality for most agencies. You know why? They forget about the time and hard work part of this equation.

But hard work is so HARD

Good intentions go wrong because we never become owners of our answers/solutions.


Agency owners will go out and buy a CRM because they’re frustrated that their producers aren’t closing, or even working on, deals. As if the CRM comes pre-loaded with highly qualified leads. 🙄

To get the return on this investment, agency leaders must first insist that producers maintain a healthy pipeline. At this point, the CRM starts to have potential value. You have to provide the training (probably repeatedly) to get the team comfortable with the solution, the leaders must lead by example, and using the CRM has to be non-optional for everyone.

Buying a CRM without doing this hard work is like buying a new refrigerator as an answer to having a healthier diet. It's a critical part of what's needed, but it can't do anything other than help you maintain the potential to succeed.

Technology success is the result of disciplined execution and the hard work of changing habits.


Agency owners get frustrated at their ability to get the attention of prospects; they get tired of looking just like every other competitor. So, what do they do? They hire a marketing firm to redo their website and maybe create some new collateral material. Maybe they go all out and even rebrand their agency.

There's nothing wrong with any of this, but completely giving the job of building your brand to an outside firm will only generate incremental results at best. Sure, the agency team probably gets excited about the new look and are eager to hand out the new slicks, but that excitement quickly fades. You know why? Because the team can’t see themselves in the new brand. You know why? Because they aren’t there.

Marketing is mostly about developing, communicating, and protecting your brand. A brand is the organizational equivalent of your personality. It is the essence of who you are, what you stand for, why you do what you do, and how you make shit happen.

When we're talking to prospective marketing clients, it's disappointing how many say they tried marketing before but gave up on it because they didn't see the ROI. The reason was twofold. One, they didn't give it enough time. And two, they hired someone to do it all for them, to pretty up their website, to run a campaign or two. Nobody on their team took ownership because they couldn't see themselves in the results.

If you’re personally invested, you’re much more active, patient, and disciplined with the evolving effort. To make it work, the agency team needs to be involved.

  • They have to answer tough questions.
  • They have to think about themselves in ways they never have before.
  • They have to be willing to put themselves into the brand and messages.
  • And, they have to help communicate that brand consistently.

Marketing success is about doing the hard work of putting yourself in the message and the discipline to communicate that message consistently.

Bottom line

I know that agency owners approach new solutions with the best of intentions. I genuinely admire their willingness to invest their hard-earned money into those new solutions. But that's the easy part.

It’s not enough to get out the checkbook to address agency challenges; leaders have to get out their calendars and fill them in with the team activities and hard work necessary to achieve their desired results.

Reaching your potential does take hard work. It takes discipline, and it takes accountability. I know you're not afraid of the hard work, but I know many agencies need to dig deep to find the necessary discipline and accountability. Don't curse the fact that it isn't easy, celebrate it, and use it as your motivation to be the exception, knowing most of your competition is too weak to keep up.

When you bring a willingness to do the hard work, and when you add in discipline and accountability for execution, you’re making the most significant investment of all: you’re investing in your team and their potential. When you stand back and look at the results of your hard work, the confidence and swagger cannot be contained. You, my friend, have unleashed the potential of your agency. You have unleashed the potential of every member of your team.

I’d make that investment ALL. DAY. LONG. EVERY. FREAKIN’. DAY.

Photo by motortion.

Defining Your Business Brand