Oh, now you’ve done it. As the head of your company’s sales department, you’ve hired an ad agency. The first impression they made was spectacular, as they walked you through their sleek offices like you were now their top client, no effort spared, etc. etc. You met their creative director, their executive creative director and their associate creative director, all in their offices so you’d note the ADDYs, Clios and other industry awards. And that was the last time you saw any of them.
They weren’t at the rebranding reveal meeting, an underling handled that. They didn’t present the campaign’s new positioning slogan or its strategy to you, a senior VP did that. And a media buyer presented a plan heavy on TV and billboards.
So, fingers crossed for your new ad campaign and the subsequent avalanche of sales.
Buyer’s remorse yet?
There was once a time when full-service ad agencies were big business. Today, there are plenty of reasons to step back and consider other options.
The most often cited drawback of a full-service agency is limited access to top specialized talent. While many full-service agencies are filled with creative pros, agencies that fulfill certain niches, such as digital, media buying and marketing research, have a primary focus on these areas. In essence, full-service agencies are general contractors with multiple solutions, while niche agencies or specialists concentrate on focus areas.
Though full-service agencies do offer collaboration throughout the entire ad process, they may not offer a wide array of unique vantage points and ideas that you may get with specialized agencies. For instance, a small business that uses a creative boutique, interactive agency and event marketing agency could get differing message ideas from each that are weighed to find what ultimately amounts to the best idea. In a full-service agency, team members may latch on to one idea and not explore others. And, worst of all, there are ad agencies that tailor their campaigns around specific media outlets while not even considering other options. If the agency plans to buy radio for you, ask them why. Odds are they have a long-standing relationship with a top-rated all-news station or a radio group.
Radio is not obsolete—yet—but agencies will sometimes build campaigns around the media they know, not necessarily the medium that’s most appropriate for your product. And the bigger the agency, the less likely it is that they’ll be able to react quickly in case of a sudden change that impacts your product.
Alas, traditional ad agencies no longer have a role to play where business development, sales and marketing intersect. Agencies tend to step from campaign to campaign without taking your growth into account, or even looking at business development data. Most ad agencies don’t share the client’s long view, and so they put no skin in the game. Meanwhile, it’s gotten harder and harder to build trust with consumers. It can’t be done with just TV, newspapers or out-of-home any longer. And the upper reaches of the 50+ audience are still not entirely comfortable with digital or social media. Unless you’re a huge company with a well-staffed marketing team, it’s unlikely you’d have all the channel/device/analytics expertise you need in today’s marketplace.
Marketing is proactive. Advertising is reactive. At our shop, MediaMark Spotlight, our marketing strategies originate with business development first—what do you need to succeed?
We lead with a carefully-calibrated strategy, which is the key to your plan. Everything from the creative to the deployment is designed to fit smoothly into your business development strategy and your long-term growth. We make sure you communicate effectively, and to the right targets. Our plans include ROI and other tracking for fast feedback.
“MediaMark Spotlight brings everything together: the numbers, the market, the strategy and the creative,” notes Ferraro, “but if we had a banner to wave, it would say, ‘You can’t argue with results.’”