Expert to know: Todd Handy (Q&A Interview)

October 16, 2023

Todd Handy is the Chief Revenue Officer at SEBPO (based in Marlton, New Jersey), listed on 50Pros as a top 50 firm in Advertising and Digital Marketing.

In this Q&A, Todd shares his in-depth perspective, unique background, robust experiences, and insightful tips.

How did you get into your industry?

In 2009, I joined a Salt Lake City-based media company that built the largest local media website in the nation – The company owned newspaper, TV, and radio brands, and had just created a separate digital division to generate internal disruption. I spent the next six years building new sales channels, digital advertising products, disruptive advertising formats, and generally doing all I could to help build out this digital media division and grow the digital offerings and revenues of our traditional media companies. I've since led the entire digital division of a $250M public radio company as Chief Digital Officer and the sales & account management teams of three digital media outsourced providers. I now serve as the Chief Revenue Officer of one of those providers, SEBPO.

Do you have any facts, statistics, or figures you'd like to share about your firm, SEBPO?

SEBPO’s success metrics speak for themselves, and we are proud to share them. Our accuracy rates are hard to believe, but they are true - our aggregate accuracy percentage across all services last year was 99.75%. Commitment to quality metrics has helped us earn our stripes. This commitment is also evident in the number of clients that have grown with SEBPO year after year.

How do you ensure that your team members stay engaged and motivated?

Culture is so important. SEBPO has a great working culture because that was part of the original business plan. SEBPO is committed to the growth and well-being of their employees, and we are continually looking for ways to challenge and reward our employees. The company grew from a few individuals who are passionate about BPO and about creating a thriving work culture. We hire people with those same values. As the company grows, it is important for the executive team to maintain this culture.

How do you manage work-life balance as an agency owner or executive?

The concept of work-life balance is a myth. A person will always be out of balance, and that’s OK. As a father, husband, and employee, there is no perfect balance. At any time, one of these priorities might need more attention. I have a strong commitment to my company, and SEBPO is a company committed to its employees. When you have this scenario, you and your employees can adjust the time commitment as needed.

What is the best piece of advice you've received in your career that pertains to your work, and how has it influenced your decisions?

I’ve heard this advice reinforced by several great leaders; “Work hard and play hard. Don’t divide your attention. Do everything well.”

What activities or hobbies outside of work do you enjoy that help you recharge and stay creative?

Outside of work, I am an endurance athlete. When there is no snow in Utah, I am running and cycling. When there is snow, I am snowboarding. I also try to fit some golf in there whenever possible.

What do you like most about your industry?

I love the dynamic nature of digital media. Early on, it was all about social media platforms and how they were growing and monetizing.

Then, it turned to native advertising (AKA sponsored or branded content) and how content and context once again became relevant. This change enabled brands to tell stories and truly become “media companies.”

It then turned to AdTech: programmatic advertising, audience targeting and retargeting, dynamic and sequential creative, the Lumascape (and resultant M&A across the ecosystem), and all the inventory any advertiser could buy and any media company could sell.

Lately, it's been about realigning and reassessing third-party cookies, legislation (GDPR, CPRA, all the states and their own regulations), data privacy, and App Tracking Transparency. Once again, content and context are suddenly relevant again and enabling advertisers to reach audiences with their stories and products.

What's next? That's what I love being involved in and part of.

What do you dislike most about your industry?

Honestly, what I like most about this industry, the dynamic nature of digital media, can, at times, be part of what I most dislike about it. From a consumption standpoint, I rarely consume traditional media other than TV, and more often than not, I'm not consuming traditional TV either. But, I'm keenly aware of journalism's societal value: speaking truth to power, holding power to account, educating and informing communities, and helping democracy remain a democracy. Local media companies deliver that kind of journalism, but they also deliver insights, entertain, provide companionship, and help "local" be "local.”

However, due to the nature and power of the Internet, and how thoroughly it has disrupted media (especially local media), local media companies have repeatedly been put on their back foot. To reach (and in some cases, maintain) audiences, local media companies embraced social media platforms, and platforms in general, given their incredible reach. However, the audiences that local media companies reached didn't necessarily choose to consume their content on the media companies' sites, instead choosing to do so (and being increasingly enticed to) on the platforms themselves. That decimated the advertising revenues of the local media companies, forcing them to seek various mitigating strategies, many of which haven't been good for the media companies' audiences, which has further impacted and eroded revenues (and profits).

There's a lot more to be said about this topic, but digital innovation/disruption is very much a double-edged sword, and that sword has cut pretty deeply.

If you could make a few changes in your industry, what would they be?

Part of why I joined SEBPO is the value proposition it offers to media companies, agencies, platforms, Ad Ops and AdTech companies. That value proposition is part of what I think can facilitate some change and benefit those companies long term. SEBPO helps companies in this space scale their operations.

At a time when companies may be struggling to retain revenue or build out new revenue channels, SEBPO enables companies to find and drive incremental revenue opportunities, which strengthens their organizations as a whole. SEBPO can also help companies in this space to save. When times are good, reducing expenses is nice. When times are bad, or the potential of a recession looms, reducing expenses is a necessity.

SEBPO can reduce expenses in various ways, all of which help strengthen those companies. SEBPO provides a mechanism for companies in this space to succeed. Driving incremental revenue or reducing expenses is game-changing. Doing that while also improving performance, however, is company-changing.

SEBPO can enable companies to find performance gains with new processes, tools, and viewpoints. One of the best ways to strengthen a business is to help it become more efficient, effective, and focused.

What do you wish people knew about your industry?

More than anything, I wish leaders of media companies, agencies, platforms, and AdTech companies knew that partnering with an outsourced company, especially an outsourced Ad Ops company, isn't about giving up control or accepting tradeoffs. SEBPO's clients are some of the best, most respected companies in their respective spaces, and SEBPO helps position them to retain their leadership positions while positioning themselves for the future and all that lies ahead.

When you first started, how did you get clients?

Direct sales has always been the easiest and fastest acquisition strategy to implement. That doesn't mean it's the most efficient, effective, or fastest strategy. But, it's a good start, and one fully within your control.

...and how do you get clients today?

Technology has certainly benefited the acquisition process. Sales enablement tools multiply the effort and output of sales teams, which typically multiplies the results as well. Partnerships have helped the acquisition process. It's about core competencies. We work with great partners who are good at outbound calling, data cleansing and enrichment, and have key relationships with decision-makers. Those partnerships have driven our results. Referrals are also some of the best ways to bolster the acquisition process. Happy clients who tell others about why they're so happy with their partners often lead to more happy clients (and happy client partners)!

What is your approach to continuous improvement and learning within your agency?

No matter how big or small this issue, we commit to uncovering the details of what went wrong with a project through rigorous and thorough processes. We are transparent with our clients and work together to continually improve and seek out new information.

What is the biggest issue that your firm, or firms like yours, face?

I'd say that one of the biggest issues is that the digital media space is so dynamic and ever-changing that prospective clients often feel that no one else can do it like they do, or as well as they do. That perception isn't necessarily correct. Many of SEBPO's clients find that having our teams focus on certain processes or tasks enables their internal teams to focus on more strategic or critical processes and tasks.

What changes have you seen occur since you first got started in this business?

One of the biggest changes is that clients and prospects are finding that focusing on core competencies, or division of labor, or any other way(s) they choose to let a partner like SEBPO help them, is one of the most difficult changes for them to embrace. Ultimately, they find that by doing so, they realize greater incremental revenue, reduced expenses, or performance improvements.

What changes do you foresee occurring in the future?

One of the biggest changes, which can be very positive if it's properly harnessed and implemented, is artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. AI and automation can help processes and people, but for the foreseeable future, these tools won't replace processes and people. They can and will replace certain tasks and processes, but that will enable people to focus on higher-value problems and opportunities.

Who do you see having a competitive edge in the future?

Those who will have the greatest competitive edge in the future will be those companies that aren't threatened by or scared of AI and automation, but embrace them. Companies whose "products" are the people they employ, and the outputs of those people, may feel that AI and automation can only replace their people and make them hemorrhage revenue.

In reality, those companies that embrace AI and automation will improve their own internal processes, enabling them to deliver results faster, at a lower expense, with higher quality, or any mixture of the three. Those companies are the ones who will then be able to not only better control their own destinies but also offer the learning and efficiency gains that they've found to their clients.

If a company was looking to hire your firm, or a firm like yours, what questions should they ask themselves as a team before approaching you?

A company looking to hire SEBPO should ask themselves:

  • Is there clarity on the business need?
  • Does SEBPO match what your company needs?
  • How would you measure success?
  • What is the budget?
  • Who is the decision maker?
  • When do you want to start?

When a company is interested in hiring you, how should they approach you and how should they do business with you?

Check out our website, case studies, and blogs; read about SEBPO. You can meet us at an event or fill out a form on our website for more information. You can also contact me or any team member at SEBPO. We are passionate about helping clients Scale, Save, and Succeed and are happy to speak about it at any time.

How do you maintain strong relationships with clients to ensure long-term partnerships?

I think it is important to get to know people on a personal level. Ask them - “what makes you tick? What are your goals? How can SEBPO help you be successful?” Create open conversations with full transparency. Make it safe for the client to share the good and the bad. Is SEBPO meeting our collective KPIs and SLAs? Work together to resolve the issues and focus on continual improvement.

If someone were thinking about starting their own agency, what advice would you give them?

Good luck! Be prepared for a lot of clients who are demanding and will hold you accountable for the best and highest level of service. You have to be willing to go to events, answer questions, and be transparent. You can also contact SEBPO, and we will take care of you.

What role does networking play in growing your agency's business?

Networking is huge. It is how you create new business. Social media, webinars, and client referrals are the best ways to network.

What else would you like to share about SEBPO?

SEBPO has an impressive client list of blue-chip companies that we help Scale, Save, and Succeed. We are passionate about what we do and how we help our clients. Reach out! We would love to have a conversation.

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