Cut to the Chase with Bill Milkereit of Poke The Bear | Ep.1 (pt.1)

Cut to the Chase is an RSW/US interview series that delivers brief, but impactful views from ad agency principals and business development leaders on growth strategies and the challenges that come with it in today’s weird, evolving landscape.

In the Fall of 2020, Bill Milkereit and Todd Tucker were group head/creative director and creative group head, respectively, at the Richards Group in Dallas, the largest independently-owned agency in the country at the time.

They created some of the county’s most well-known ad campaigns-the cows for Chick-fil-A, the resurrection of the Fruit Guys at Fruit of the Loom, “Let’s Do This” for Home Depot, and “It Just Means More” for the SEC (Southeastern Conference).

And then it happened-The Richards Group was thrown into turmoil in front of the ad world, making national news.

While Bill and Todd were not involved in that event, like so many other Richards Group employees at the time, they had a decision to make.

After decades of memorable work and honing their craft, the last thing they were thinking about was starting a new agency.

This is the topic of episode 1 of our new RSW interview series, Cut To The Chase.

As were looking for a new idea after our 100-episode run of ad agency business development series, 3 Takeaways, we wanted to bring you something different.

Every agency owner has experienced the process of starting a new agency (or taking over one) and everything that goes with it.

But many (most?) didn’t go though it in quite the same way Bill and his co-founder Todd did.

In this episode, Bill talks:
-The storied campaigns he worked on
-Working with a nudist client (yikes)
-Poke The Bear-how did they come up with the name? (It took a year)
-Poke the Bear’s ideal client
-Why they excel in fan culture
-The tough question: What is PTB’s point of difference?
-Pushing back on clients for the right reasons

Financial Services

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking financial services and credit unions with David Eldred, the Chief Experience Officer for Solarity Credit Union.

If your agency pursues clients in the financial services or credit union space, you’ll want to watch this episode.

With over $1 billion in assets under management, Solarity Credit Union’s digitally focused community-centric co-op currently serves more than 50,000 members and offers a comprehensive range of products and services to meet ever-evolving financial needs.

Membership is open to everyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school within a Washington State school district.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-David talks:

  • His experience with RVM (Relationship Value Management), an approach that proved invaluable in developing relationship-based pricing strategies.
  • Aside from mobile banking, the biggest changes in the industry he has experienced.
  • And what he thinks the financial services and credit unions space will look like 3-5 years out.
  • What it means to be a “Chief Experience Officer” at a credit union and how that’s different than being a CMO.
  • What he likes most (personally and professionally) about the financial servives and credit unions space, an industry he’s operated in his entire career.
  • The advantages of in-house teams and the advantages of working with an outside agency.
  • Any advice he would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board.
  • And lastly, if an agency was trying to knock down his door and attempting to win business from him, the advice he would give them.


Marketer’s Edge Interview With Pete Buscani: Restaurant Chains

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking restaurant chains and marketing with Pete Buscani , the EVP of Marketing at LaRosa’s Pizzeria.

If your agency pursues clients in the restaurant, restaurant chains, or franchise space, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: After serving our communities and its guests for 65+, LaRosa’s continues to be the leading pizzeria and Italian restaurant in the Greater Cincinnati area. We know a restaurant is only as good as the food it serves, and thousands of our Guests agree that LaRosa’s food simply can’t be beat.

LaRosa’s truly is your neighborhood pizzeria. Families in Ohio, Indiana, and Northern Kentucky have been enjoying LaRosa’s original recipe pizzas for generations, with many of them making LaRosa’s a weekly tradition. Of course you can choose from other LaRosa’s favorites like calzones, hoagies, pasta, and more.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Pete talks:

  • What he feels is key to maintaining a solid agency-client relationship.
  • What some of the toughest challenges he’s faced marketing the LaRosa’s brand to consumers and how he has overcome them.
  • Advice he would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board.
  • The degree to which LaRosa’s has had to adapt to changing consumer preferences over the 22 years Pete has been at the marketing helm.
  • What he did during the pandemic to keep sales strong and that he found useful continuing post-pandemic.
  • How his advertising experience (prior to joining LaRosa’s) has helped him.
  • And lastly, if an agency was trying to knock down his door and to win business, the advice he would give them.
Sales Automation Has Replaced Any Sense Of Understanding

Welcome to episode 100 of 3 Takeaways, with a focus on sales automation (also our 5th Halloween episode, although Lee says 4-no, no).

There is nothing wrong with your device.

Do not attempt to adjust the picture.

We are controlling transmission.

Business development for your advertising agency has been subsumed. 

Humans no longer control strategy or execution-technology is all- automation has replaced any sense of understanding. 

Ominous opening, right?

Well, we don’t have much time-the sales automation overlords are watching. 

But we’ve jammed their signal for a few minutes.

I can’t take credit for that last sentence in our opening. 

It comes from an agency principal, discussing the high volume of sales outreach being vomited, copiously into our email boxes, on LinkedIn, and, occasionally, on our phones.

With little sense of targeting, lack of research, and a reliance on volume to the detriment of any relevant message, he said, and I quote, automation has replaced any sense of understanding.

It’s become pervasive-you get the same emails and messaging I do-there is rarely any sense of understanding of prospects or their companies in most outreach today.

If there were, I wouldn’t be getting these emails, because I’m not the right-fit prospect in most cases.

But these salespeople wouldn’t know that, because they haven’t taken the time to do the homework.

So in this episode, we bring you 3 Takeaways to make sure your agency isn’t subsumed by the hivemind that we call, Extreme Automation Reliance. 


Your first takeaway is paramount and simple:

Don’t let technology take over your business development process.

Let’s not kid anyone, technology is essential in making your process more efficient, but here’s a critical stat:

76% of agencies get more than six sales emails a day.  And almost 90% of those agencies said only 9% of those are effective.

Some salespeople are content with that. 

Perhaps they are one of the 9%. 

But great salespeople know that reliance on one platform leaves potential opportunities on the table.

Yes, use email, but how many of your competitors are picking up the phone? 

Are using traditional mail?

Do what your competitors are not.

With all this, the message here is not that you should never incorporate automation into your business development strategy.

Sales automation, whether through an automation platform, or using CRM tools that automate certain tasks, can be effective, but, and this is your second takeaway:

If you’re going to automate, make sure you are targeting the right prospects. 

A different agency principal, in an initial conversation about our services at RSW/US, told me about a meeting coming up their new business director had set. 

This business director relied on simple automation via email blasts and his network. 

This principal told me, they had no business taking this meeting-it wasn’t a fit.

Many alarm bells went off.

It . . .does not compute.

So many business development failures can be traced back to going after the wrong prospects. 

You have to take the time to nail those parameters down and make sure everyone involved in new business is on the same page.

We’ve now come to our final takeaway, time is short-they, are watching. 

We’ve established that automation isn’t inherently ineffective, however-your third takeaway is this:

Make sure sales automation isn’t THE strategy.

Since automation occurs through email, when you do use it, it is, of course, vital that those emails actually reach your prospects, which means your sender reputation must be up to par.

But 60% of agencies do not monitor their email sender reputation.

There are many tools, from Google, Microsoft and others, to ensure your deliverability is not impaired. 

Alright, I must go. 

Thank you for watching our 100th episode of 3 Takeaways! 

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Dan Klopp: Space Technology

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking space technology with Dan Klopp, the Director Of Marketing And Business Development for Space Systems Division at ILC Dover.

If your agency pursues clients in the space technology, aerospace, or tech space, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: ILC Dover is a world-leader in the innovative design and production of solutions for biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, medical device markets as well as a leading supplier for the (aero)space industries.

Our customers will attest to our relentless dedication to high value products, advanced technology, and responsive service, as our visionary solutions have improved efficiency while safeguarding people, product, and infrastructure in hazardous conditions through flexible protective solutions since 1947.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Dan talks:

  • What he likes most about working in marketing & tech– particularly space technology.
  • What it’s like being one division of a well-diversified holding company, and the degree to which it proves difficult to get corporate resources Dan’s division needs to accomplish its goals.
  • The toughest challenges in marketing products in the technology space and how he’s historically overcome them.
  • ILC Dover’s involvement in the production of the next gen space suit and, unlike the suit created during the Apollo era, they’ll actually get to brand these suits with the ILC Dover name/logo.
  • His strong belief in the “Servant-Leader/Theory Y management philosophy.”
  • Advice he would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board.
  • And lastly, if an agency attempting to win business from him, the advice he would give them.

A little bit about Dan:

Executive with consistent record of profitable growth in a range of technology markets.

Market experience includes; Aerospace, electronics, chemical analysis instrumentation, and semiconductor processing equipment.

Skilled at leading teams of professionals capable of distilling diverse information into a sustainable growth strategy.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Kasey Moss: Sustainable Retail

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking sustainable retail with Kasey Moss, the Brand Director for Chomps.

If your agency pursues clients in the food retail or sustainable food space, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: Chomps is a better-for-you meat snack brand with products made from the highest-quality, sustainably sourced proteins and no hidden, harmful ingredients.

Chomps beef and venison are 100% grass-fed and finished, our turkey is free range, and all of our proteins are hormone free, antibiotic free, and humanely raised.

Chomps meat snacks never contain added sugar, artificial preservatives or colors, MSG or fillers and are free from the top 8 allergens.

Our mission is to inspire a healthier way of snacking by providing high-quality, protein-packed snacks with simple, real food ingredients. At Chomps, there are no compromises or cutting corners – our products are delicious and nutritious.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Kasey talks:

  • Advice for other marketers looking to build their social presence and better take advantage of the space.
  • How there are a lot of “good for you” brands that use philanthropy or other approaches to strengthen their perceived “purpose” in the market and among employees and how Chomps efforts have benefited their brand and company.
  • Why she has focused her marketing career on “good for you” foods. Prior to joining Chomps, Kasey spent 9 years working for Enjoy Life Foods.
  • How marketing products like Chomps differs from marketing a more mainstream food product. We discussed other things marketers need to be considerate of – other ways they need to think about how they message or market a brand like Chomps.
  • How they make certain that the equities that exist in the brand today aren’t compromised as they expand the brand in the future.
  • And of course, advice she has for marketers looking for a new marketing agency and advice for agencies looking to bust down her door and work with her.

A little bit about Kasey:

Seasoned, yet scrappy marketing professional with several years of experience of CPG brand building experience.

Extensive experience in brand marketing and a strategic leader with a focus on data and behavior-driven results and continuous brand growth across all consumer touch points resulting in omnichannel growth.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With David Dirks: Credit Union Marketing

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking credit union marketing with David Dirks, Vice President of Marketing for the Hudson Valley Credit Union.

If your agency pursues clients in the credit union space, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: Hudson Valley Credit Union is a full service not-for-profit financial cooperative, 300,000+ members strong. They extend membership to their neighbors who live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school in Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Ulster, or Westchester Counties.

The company started in October 1963, when a group of IBM employees had a vision—to create a financial cooperative for IBM employees and their families, where the needs of the individual would be placed before profit.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-David talks:

  • Some of the more unique things he’s doing to bring the credit union and its community closer together.
  • Predictions on what the banking and credit union world will look like in the future.
  • The relative importance of calling out the differences between credit unions and banks – today, as compared to a decade ago.
  • How they effectively kept engagement with their customer base strong during the pandemic.
  • Any advice David would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board.
  • And lastly, if an agency was trying to knock down David’s door and attempting to win business from him, what advice he would give them.


A little bit about David:

David’s career in marketing & sales management spans the course of multiple industries including financial services, advertising, professional services, and the food industry.

He has worked with companies to help them blend traditional data with “big data” analytics to provide a strategic framework translating data into a tactical framework for developing marketing campaigns that drive business results.

Creating and executing marketing campaigns & programs built on a foundation of solid data (marketing) analytics is what he delivers. Focusing on revenue growth AND profitability.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Amanda Parker-Wolery: Marketing to Multiple Audiences

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking marketing to multiple audiences (consumers and builders), eCommerce, localized marketing, and dealer networks with Amanda Parker-Wolery, Marketing Director at Organized Living.

If your agency pursues clients in the building industry, who target dealer networks, or who focus on localized marketing, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: Organized Living offers high-quality, innovative storage and organization products for single family builders and multifamily professionals.

From the bedroom closet to the kitchen pantry to the garage, Organized Living offers high-quality, innovative storage and organization products for single family Builders and multifamily professionals. Sold through professionally installing dealers, retailers, and online retailers.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Amanda talks:

  • How she addresses the need to localize marketing for each property yet still maintaining efficiencies in her overall spend.
  • Her goals for the organization – where she would you like to see the company 2-3 years out.
  • How Organized Living differentiates itself from competitors in the market.
  • How the company markets to each of their different audiences.
  • The design background and quality experience managing creative institutions like, most recently, The Art Academy of Cincinnati that she brings to Organized Living, and how she thinks that experience will impact how she manages the marketing of Organized Living.
  • Any advice Amanda would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board.
  • And lastly, if an agency was trying to knock down Amanda’s door and attempting to win business from her, what advice she would give them

A little bit about Amanda:

Amanda Parker-Wolery meshes her creativity with her background in marketing and strategy as Organized Living’s Director of Marketing.

She holds a BFA in Visual Communication from the University of Dayton and a MFA in 2D from the University of Cincinnati.

Find more at:

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Scott Sanchez: Software Delivery Market

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking the software delivery market with Scott Sanchez, Chief Marketing Officer at Harness.

If your agency pursues clients in software delivery, cloud initiatives, or orchestration tools, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: Harness is a rapidly growing startup that is disrupting the software delivery market.

They are building an intelligent software delivery platform that enables engineers to deliver software faster, with higher quality, and with less effort. The Harness Software Delivery Platform includes Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, Feature Flags and Cloud Cost Management. The platform is designed to help companies accelerate their cloud initiatives as well as their adoption of containers and orchestration tools like Kubernetes and Amazon ECS.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Scott talks:

  • How AI plays a role in creating a better process for managing development of software.
  • Scott’s thoughts relative to what companies will be looking at 3-5 years out – whether or not companies are doomed for disaster if they don’t take the business of security and reliability seriously
  • The over-riding benefit that Harness brings to companies – a benefit that companies weren’t able to obtain prior to using Harness.
  • What developers are most often doing or using if they aren’t using a product like Harness.
  • Any advice Scott would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board
    And lastly, if an agency was trying to knock down Scott’s door and attempting to win business from him, what advice he would give them

A little bit about Scott:

Scott is a global marketing executive, growth advisor, and angel investor with a 25-year track record of creating and executing strategies that deliver results for growth-stage, VC-backed startups and Fortune 100s alike.

Prior to joining Harness as Chief Marketing Officer, Scott was Head of Cloud Native and Developer Marketing at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he was responsible for leading the global marketing and growth efforts in a broad portfolio that spanned services across Containers, Serverless, and Developer Tools. Scott was part of the executive team that helped grow Metacloud to acquisition by Cisco, where he went on to build a global cloud marketing and growth function that helped create what has become a successful $15B+ software and subscription business.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Michael Rauh: Banking Challenges

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking banking challenges with Michael Rauh, President & CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank.

If your agency pursues clients in the financial space, banking, or community banking, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: based in Groton, Connecticut, Chelsea Groton Bank is a mutually owned bank with 14 locations throughout New London County and a Loan Production Office in Hartford County. The Bank has over $1 billion in assets and serves businesses, individuals and families throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Michael talks:

  • What it means to be a “mutually owned community bank” and how that’s different from just being a bank or a credit union.
  • Technology and its role in banking today.
  • Chelsea University – a concept created to benefit customers and employees benefit from it.
  • Some of the top challenges facing banks today and the challenges anticipated as we look forward into the future.
  • Opportunities that Michael sees for banks the next 3-5 years out.
  • Advice he’d give to marketers looking for a new agency.
  • Advice to agencies he’d give if they were trying to knock down his door and win his business.

A little bit about Michael:

Michael has been the President & CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank for nearly 12 years.

Prior to Chelsea Groton, Michael spent 20 years at the Washington Trust Company and 5 years at Chaffee & Partners.

Michael graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in economics.


You can also see our video series 3 Takeaways here. It’s our agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy, email me at I would love to talk.

Or, if you’re not ready for that step, you can read about how our outsourced business development programs work here.