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E185: Get profitable using the right Agency Math with Drew McLellan

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Drew McLellan ‌has worked in advertising for over 30 years. He started his own agency, McLellan Marketing Group, in 1995 after a 5-year stint at Y&R. Drew has been published in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Ad Age, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Business Week, and many others. The Wall Street Journal calls him “one of 10 bloggers every entrepreneur should read”. He’s also written several books and helped thousands of agency owners grow their businesses.

Episode highlights:

  • Can a niche be too narrow? Drew weighs in.
  • What is the ideal client breakdown by AGI? Drew explains.
  • Why you say “yes” when you are taking on something outside your specialty.
  • Agency Math: why profitable projects don’t always lead to profitable businesses.
  • What to do when you have a team that’s too big (like many agencies do).
  • Whether the agency owner should track time.
  • Best advice: Work harder than anybody else, and take less credit than anybody else.
  • Habit that contributes to success: Never miss a deadline.
  • Recommended tools: Things
  • Recommended book: The Radical Leap by Steve Farber
  • Run time: 34:51



  • “I thought I was going to get in trouble…she offered me a job.”
  • “It’s a lot easier to grow and build an agency if you have a niche.”
  • “That’s not actually a niche – that’s an entire industry.”
  • “We figure out how to get it done, but not at an equal profit level.”
  • “This habitual ‘yes’ thing.”
  • “It is the number one thing I think agency owners are lacking.”
  • “Always be a little leaner than you need to be.”



  • Adjusted Gross Income is the money you get to keep. An individual client should make up 5-10% AGI.




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