Recently a client confided in me that they had been working with an agency, spent quite a bit of money, and in return received some different marketing tactics for their spend. But in the end, my client didn’t see value for their money because the agency used tactics that just weren’t right for that client. In addition, the agency had some project management issues and weren’t able to deliver many final finished projects. And the projects they did complete were just not effective.
As you might guess, my client had to sever ties with the agency and looked to me—but we had one problem: they were halfway through the year and had used up 80% of their marketing budget, with basically nothing to show for it. Now my client found themselves under pressure to deliver in the second half of the year with most of the money gone.
How did this happen? It’s not that the agency was full of bad people trying to take advantage of the client. Hardly the case. I’d argue they really had the client’s best interests in mind. But once you have been using agencies for a while, you’ll discover many tend to view the world through the lens of what they specialize in.
If you work with a digital agency, they’ll want to build a website for you, with banner ads to drive traffic to your fancy new site. If it’s a PR agency, then they will convince you getting media coverage is the solution. And an ad agency that buys a lot of media will want to sell a lot of print advertising in trade publications.
You see, all of these types of agencies have seen results from these tactics, so it’s become what they are comfortable doing. Hence, that’s what they recommend to their clients—these tactics that have more or less worked in the past. The problem? Agencies can really become a money pit in that regard.
So perhaps your agency delivered the tactics that weren’t right for your company and didn’t take the time to get to understand what might be better by understanding the larger corporate goals. They saw themselves as strategic, and they are strategic, but only in their niche. Not truly strategic as it relates to a comprehensive marketing plan—which has to be aligned to the business goals of the company. You’ll have to make the decision to reallocate your budget to someone who can do this and stop throwing good money after bad.
Simply put, if you are not working with an agency that is aligned to your goals, they will become a money pit. But If you want your agency to help you make money, they’ll need to understand your overall revenue growth trajectory, technology portfolio, commercialization schedule, operations, etc.: basically, the things you are you trying to do as a company. A truly strategic agency will come up with a marketing plan based on that. If your agency is in tune with what you are trying to do from day one, that’s when they become a marketing force multiplier.
Before you approach an agency, it’s good to have your objectives mapped out. Take a hard look at your company from a marketing perspective and revenue growth perspective. Many times, it helps to have a consultant come in to provide an outside-in view of your market, the customers, and other factors to help you come up with a robust marketing plan. In collaborating with a third party that can provide prospective, you will find some tactics to include in your strategy that you would not have not thought of; a good consultant will tell you what you should be doing and what you should stop doing. And from that point, you can pick an agency that has the skillset to help you grow as a company.
The client I spoke about earlier? After we collaborated and came up with a solid marketing strategy, we were able to help them select the best agency for their needs given the money they had left to spend. We selected the right agency that could meet all of their objectives and fit the agency’s expertise to execute that strategy: experienced account managers, solid in-house web design team, and multiple copywriters and art directors—all working as one cohesive unit with the big-picture objectives of the company in mind.
Creative agencies can be really useful and add a lot of value to you company, or they can be a resource quagmire. Make sure you are selecting the right one given:
a.) your goals and b.) their expertise. And if you need some help thinking out your strategy, you can always contact BlueByrd!
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