Hey, thanks for tuning in to another Partner Interview at AccountsBalance.
My name is Connor Gillivan. I’m the CMO and an Owner of AccountsBalance.
We’re on a mission to help 1,000+ businesses better understand their numbers, and industry partnerships is a big way that we’re able to make it happen.
We’re all about creating win-win partnerships where we are able to grow with other companies in the agency, SAAS, and online space.
In this exclusive interview, we interview Oliver Duffy-Lee from Authority Agency.
Oliver Duffy–Lee, with 12 years in agency work and working with top brands like Volvo and Porsche, knows the industry’s highs and lows. Experiencing losses to larger agencies awakened him to a missed opportunity: talented small to mid sized agencies don’t get global marketing budgets they deserve.
Hence, Authority Agency was formed to bridge this gap, linking smaller agencies with big-name brands needing their expertise. Duffy–Lee has helped over 800 agencies, even leading some to 7-figure growth.
His unique strategy revolves around Authority Building marketing, focusing on the agency and its founder to generate strong inbound leads. His Authority Building and Client Attraction Models, both proprietary B2B marketing approaches, articulate this philosophy.
We hope that you enjoy the interview and that it brings value to you as an agency business owner.
Connor: Hey Oliver, thanks for taking the time to chat with us here. We love getting to know our partners better so that our community can benefit from what our partners are offering and doing in the industry. To get started, can you give us a high-level overview of Authority Agency and how it got started?
Oliver: Authority Agency has one mission – to connect small and medium sized agencies to the world’s biggest companies. I spent the first 8 years of my career in a medium-sized agency, competing for business with companies like Volvo against huge network agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi and Edelman. Very often we would just lose out, not because our proposal was worse, but because we were considered a ‘risk’ compared to Edelman, for example.
We want to level the playing field, and that’s why our strategy is to help smaller agencies build authority around their brand so they can genuinely be considered in those pitches.
Connor: That’s awesome! Can you dive a bit more into the education you bring to agency owners that help them scale to 7-figure businesses? I’m sure our audience would love to know exactly what problems you could solve for them.
Oliver: There are 3 core elements to the authority building system.
Define is where it all starts. This means nailing a solid, truly differentiated positioning. Broadly, you can break that into 3 pieces, who you target, the problem you solve and the offer you bring to market.
Attract is the next step. Here we use 3 strategies, personal branding (a MUST in 2023 for agency owners), network building (both on and offline) and thought leadership in the form of lead magnets, white papers, podcast appearances, speaking gigs and webinars (yep, webinars are still live and kicking in 2023!).
Convert is the final piece. A lot of agencies have terrible sales processes, driven by the prospect themselves. Instead we share our authority agency sales process, which helps them achieve 75%+ conversion rates.
Connor: Jumping off of that…if there was one problem you’d say that Authority Agency solves best for your clients, what would it be? Why?
Most talented agency owners can grind to get leads, even if they don’t have a system.
Most talented agency owners can sell, even if they don’t have a decent process.
But agencies are terrible at positioning themselves. To be honest, I get it – it’s hard. There are millions of agencies in the world and only about 25 different ‘categories / variations’ of agency. So standing out in a sea of sameness is tough.
We’re very strong on positioning and truly differentiating our agencies. I can think of at least 15 agencies that we worked with that 5x’d their agency simply by going through our repositioning process.
Connor: As the company continues to grow over the next year, what are your plans for expansion? Any new products, offerings, or enhancements to your current products and services?
Oliver: Nothing new from the Authority Agency side. We will continue to grow our Academy and Growth Service (total Done for you service).
One exciting new project is a new agency we’ve launched. It’s a strategic communication agency for international brands. We’re very blessed to have Electrolux as our first client, and we’re in talks with 3 other global brands.
Connor: And how specifically would you say that Authority Agency and your team is different from other similar businesses in the industry?
Oliver: We’re agency specialists. Whether it’s a team member, a coach, a strategist or an account manager on our team – every single person has either worked in an agency or even had their own agency before working with us. We know agencies!
Connor: What made you decide to get involved in coaching? What’s your starting online business story? From what we’ve found, a lot of business owners in the same space have fun stories of how they first started…
Oliver: To be honest, I always wanted to coach. Presenting, public speaking and (frankly) talking comes quite naturally to me, so coaching made sense. I’ve also had amazing joy from working with other coaches and want to create that impact in as many others as possible.
Connor: Love it! Talking more about the online business industry, where do you see it going in the next 1-2 years? Any unique predictions that you could share?
Oliver: The obvious answer is AI.
Let’s talk about that in the context of agency world. Agencies traditionally delivered services, which were quantified by hours – we sold hours of labour. Over recent years, this has been put under price pressure from very talented, much cheaper, off-shore agencies.
This has now been completely obliterated by free AI tools that can effectively deliver work in seconds. That’s not just disruption, that’s obliteration.
All businesses right now need to be considering where they can provide real value – because it’s it’s not in delivering things, or deliverables any more.
It’s in a sharp understanding of the current world context, and helping companies understand how they can thrive within that context. Essentially, we need to be strategic consultants, not agency delivery systems.
Connor: Giving you an open mic for a minute, what is something you’d want the AccountsBalance audience to hear?
Oliver: Firstly, you guys are the experts when it comes to finance, but the biggest financial lesson I’ve learned is, when it comes to cash flow, only look 3 months (max) in advance. Beyond that, it’s a projection. Projections are fine, and with MRR, you can make good strategic decisions, but a lot changes in 3 months.
1-3 months is cash flow
3+ months is projection
Treat them accordingly.
Connor: Changing gears a little bit…When it comes to bookkeeping and accounting, what do you think the biggest pain points for business owners are? Feel free to speak from personal experience as well.
Oliver: With agencies it’s cash flow.
Agencies have no idea why their bank account is so low when they’re so busy and they’ve got clients.
When I hear this I know it’s one of these problems:
- Prices are too low
- Expenses are too high
- Client retention is not a priority
- There’s a lack of pipeline
Connor: As we close this out, I just have one more question. Where is the best place to find and follow you and the company online? Also, if you have one, is there any special offer that you’ll be offering to the community today?
Oliver: Find me on LinkedIn – posts every day on agency growth: https://www.linkedin.com/in/oliverduffylee/
We’re also currently offering 1:1 scale sessions with agency owners who want to know what they need to do to get results in the next 90 days (it’s not a sales call, it’s a free 15 minute audit 🙂 : https://content.authorityagency.co.uk/