Identifying and Serving a Niche Drew McLellan

The Power of Content Marketing and What’s Next with AI, Artificial Intelligence

OUTdrive Episode 10 with Drew McLellan

In this episode of OUTdrive, Cliff visits with Drew McLellan, owner of Agency Management Institute (AMI) and McLellan Marketing Group (MMG). A friend and agency peer, Drew serves more than 250 small to midsize agencies, helping them build their business to be more sustainable, scalable and profitable. Here’s some highlights from their conversation.

Identifying and Serving a Niche

Identifying your company’s niche and capitalizing on it can be a good strategy for growth, no matter your business. “If you can narrow down to a super specific niche and be incredibly helpful and valuable to them (your customers), the odds of them staying are much greater. And quite honestly, it’s a lot less work,” said McLellan. “All I have to understand is the life, mind and goals of agency owners in the small- to mid-sized space. It allows me to be better at what I do and allows me to be more important to the people I do it for, which means it’s likely that they’re going to stick around longer.”

McLellan went on to discuss the profitability potential with niching down by saying, “So, from a dollars and cents point of view, I get that at the surface, it’s counter intuitive to think you’re going to turn away business. But when you really do the math, it’s actually much better.”

“I want to be significantly helpful and I know a lot about this very narrow niche. And the minute I get outside of that, I kind of look like everybody else,” McLellan went on to say. “And I want to be distinct. I want people who come and find AMI, or who seek our help to know, this is a guy who gets it because he’s run his own agency for 25 years, and is still doing it, which makes me very unique in the consultant space. This is somebody who has a passion for this business, and all he talks about is my world. And so every time I get something from him, I know it’s going to be relevant, because he talks about agencies and that’s it. So, for me, it’s a survival strategy and a thriving strategy.”

The Power of Content Marketing to Position Your Brand as an Authority

Cliff and Drew discussed the power of content marketing to position people and brands as an authority and the opportunities that provides. “I think it really revolves around positioning and personal branding,” said Cliff. “And I think that plays right to your most recent book, Sell with Authority, which you co-authored with Steven Woessner. Talk to us about what inspired this book because it’s, for an agency owner, one of the best, if not the best, business development tools I’ve ever seen.”

“If there is a challenge for agency owners, it is how to consistently put leads in the pipeline and then work them through the pipeline. Agency owners and small- to mid-sized business owners wear a lot of hats. Sometimes they still have their fingers inside the business. They’re working in the business, not on the business. And so how do you have this consistent biz dev program in a finite period of time?” McLellan responded. “The premise of this book is exactly what you and I are talking about, which is the way you do that today. And when you think about how we buy everything today on the internet, and how we do our homework before we ever go to the store, the truth is for most B2B businesses, that’s how their products and services are bought too. And I would argue that for B2C as well.”

“But the whole premise of the book is when you sell from a position of authority, so taking myself as an example, when I’m out there, creating content that helps agency owners be better at their job, and whether it’s the podcast or the webinars or whatever we’re doing, if we’re being super helpful, and we are demonstrating over and over and over again, that we have this depth of knowledge and we are capable of really helping them, then all of a sudden, they start kind of coming in closer and closer and closer, they want more information. And sooner or later they get to a point where they’re going to buy something,” McLellan continued.

“So narrowing your niche doesn’t have to be an industry, although that’s, I think, where most people go first,” said McLellan. “But the premise of the book is once you define who you are for, and you start being helpful, using content marketing and some other strategies that we outline in the book, then what happens is you actually attract the perfect fit customers to you. And some of them are going to buy right away. And some of them are going to sort of circle around you for a couple years before they’re ready to buy. But it keeps the pipeline full. And everybody in the pipeline already knows what you’re great at and already knows what they need from you. So the fit is perfect. So back to our earlier conversation. They stick around.”

Wrapping up the conversation about his book, Drew concluded, “We wrote the book specifically for agency owners, because that’s my world. But quite honestly, anybody could read that book and substitute whatever their business or whatever it is that you do, and the premise is exactly the same.”

Purchase Sell With Authority on Amazon.

What’s Next with AI Artificial Intelligence

Drew and Cliff discuss some of the things that have changed over the years since they began their careers in marketing as advertising agency owners, including the digital revolution and social media. Cliff asked Drew his thoughts on what was out ahead.

“I think there’s a couple of things. Certainly one of them is artificial intelligence,” said McLellan. “We’re starting to see some very affordable tools that allow agencies and marketers to do things that, for us, take a long time, and are ripe with risk for error; data crunching and some of those kinds of things, comparative modeling, etc.”

“There’s a tool out there now that will track who comes to your website, where they go, how much time they spend, and this is the part that’s interesting–what they wish you had more of,” McLellan went on to say. “So what were they looking for, that they couldn’t find, right? So, it sort of says to you, hey, this is what your next three blog posts should be, because it’s what people are looking for. So it’s things like that. While we probably could figure it out ourselves, it would take a long time, and it would be a lot harder. So, I think that’s why AI, Artificial Intelligence, is one of the things that we have to be paying attention to.”

“I think people are afraid of it (AI, Artificial Intelligence) because they sort of feel like they’re going to be replaced, or what about human ingenuity and all of that?” McLellan continued. “And, I think it’s sort of like a car, right? You still have to get in the car. You have to maintain the car. You have to put gas in the car. It’s a tool and AI is the same thing. It gets us where we need to go faster, more cost effectively.”

Hear more about these topics and the core values permeated throughout rural American from Cliff Callis and Drew McLellan in this episode of OUTdrive.