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How Marketing Agencies Stay Productive: Robert Hyams of McMillan

August 24, 2017

This week we feature Robert Hyams, President of McMillan. McMillan is one of Canada’s leading B2B creative agencies with a global perspective.

In this interview, you can read more about his work at McMillan, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as his advice for budding marketers.

Your location: Ottawa, Canada.

Your favorite gadget: Apple’s Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro; lightweight and functional.

You start your day with: a blueberry and kale smoothie. It ends up looking like Pantone 2955 U, a colour food should never be!

Your favorite time-saving trick: the reverse narrative; having people start at the end of the story (the outcome, the ask, or recommendation) rather than giving a linear flow.

Your top 3 blogs you read daily: CMO Network (LinkedIn); Ad Age (LinkedIn); Swystun Communications blog.

Describe an average day at McMillan?

Each day is different, but they all include a combination of:

1. Catching up on client and industry news.

2. Reviewing internal reports on the company via our dashboards and other reporting tools.

3. Responding to messages on Slack, LinkedIn, email, etc.

4. Reviewing content, including work we are presenting to a client, planned PR/ social media posts for the agency, and pricing.

5. Attending client and internal meetings; discussions with senior leadership on various issues, challenges, etc.

6. Authoring content.

As a founder/ marketer what are some of your favorite productivity hacks?

1. Stand-up meetings for brief discussions.

2. Outdoor walking discussions (One-on- one).

3. Turning on alerts and notifications only for specific channels and apps.

4. Avoid meetings that lack an agenda, a planned outcome, and a defined role for me.

5. For impromptu discussions, asking people what outcome they desire at the outset of the meeting.

6. Looking after my own calendar (I don’t have an EA to book meetings).

As a person who is well-versed with online marketing/ inbound, I’m sure you rely on a few marketing tools to automate your efforts. What are the top 3–5 tools you use?

Our go-to tool is HubSpot. It allows us to manage all our outbound marketing efforts in one spot, such as content marketing (blog and email) as well as social media, analytics, and reporting. Second to that, we use tools like MailChimp, Klipfolio, and more recently Sprout Social. As well as some good old surprise and delight, but we can’t get too much into that without giving away any secrets!

Your company has a growing community of users. How do you use this treasure trove of customer insight to power your marketing efforts?

We pay attention to the type of content that interests our audiences. We are focused on reaching B2B CMOs and have learned that quality is much more important than quantity. We now have a few posts, but they are well researched and offer new insights. We avoid clickbait and the top 10 types of lists that are pervasive in B2B.

What is your strategy for getting people to your site and then converting them to a customer?

Our site is not meant to convert clients; its role is much earlier in the purchase process when we want to move a customer from being aware to intrigued. We bring prospects to our site by promoting our content, our awards, and our news updates on B2B channels, primarily LinkedIn and Twitter.

Is there any advice you’d like to give to budding marketers to help them work smart and stay productive?

Make sure your clients and those who schedule your projects understand that the value you bring is directly proportional to the amount of ‘thinking time’ you have. You need to block off chunks of time to sit and ponder the marketing challenges in front of you. Marketing can’t happen in little sprints — you need big blocks of time to work efficiently.

How do teams at McMillan have fun at work/make work fun? Or describe one fun activity you did recently that energized your team?

We do a lot of things: picnics, scavenger hunts, lunches, parties, softball tournaments, fundraisers.

Having fun at work is a very important part of our company culture. In fact, we have a committee dedicated to coming up with these fun activities called the Committee to Be Committed! We also do a lot of impromptu things. Just last week, someone posted an unusual stock photo on a company Slack channel of a man staring at another man who was using a urinal. I seized the opportunity to turn it into an internal photo caption contest, with the responses getting more ribald as time went out.

A big thanks to Rob for taking the time out to answer these questions! If you haven’t already, we highly recommend that you check out McMillan.

Managing marketing projects shouldn’t be chaotic —Try Brightpod for free and start focusing on what matters.


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