Mobile Marketing. The Ad Agency New Business Goldmine

October 16, 2009

mobile 3images

Mobile marketing has an additive effect on other advertising and marketing efforts and can bridge the gap between digital and traditional campaigns. It is also flexible, lending itself to both direct response and brand reinforcement campaigns. (Source: eMarketer, June, 2009)

Despite the rising number of mobile users and their increasingly sophisticated habits and mobile devices, currently advertising and marketing dollars flowing to mobile lag behind consumer usage of the channel. This however is about to change and the change is going to be significant. According to eMarketer, mobile advertising spending is going to increase from a mere $416 million in 2009 to $1.560 billion in 2013.

mobile media106464 

This increased growth will ultimately create a need for better creative. Up until now, marketers and their agencies have done a tremendous job of recycling and repurposing creative assets from other media and channels, in an attempt to make sure that as much of the budget as possible goes into working media.

This is an opportunity for agencies to step up to the plate and deliver a better quality product while demanding more fully funded mobile production budgets.  While most creative types currently believe that mobile environments have significant creative limitations, the reality is that this is indeed not the case. The problem is that most creatives are not aware of the technologies currently available and hence what is actually possible.

While there are currently some notable agencies out there leading the charge and creating excellent work, most seem to be overlooking the opportunity.




Social Media Fuels Land Grab Within Client Marketing Departments!

October 13, 2009

The exponential growth in social networking and popularity of social media, has created an incredible land grab within many internal client marketing departments. This can be both an opportunity and threat as it relates to the agency world.

In a June, 2009 survey by Zoomerang/StrongMail, marketers were asked the question, “Which marketing function owns social media within your organization?” The survey revealed that 29% of respondents said that it is shared by multiple functions. The majority of respondents however (36%) reported that direct marketing owns social media with only 9% saying that is was owned by PR and just 5% claiming to have a dedicated internal social media department.

A deeper look into what may be driving this revealed some very interesting facts. According to a recent eMarketer article, when marketing executives were asked what they perceived the benefits to be of social media, their responses were as follows:

value of social 

 81% of respondents stated that the major benefits were both brand building and CRM. 69% also believed that it was a viable recruitment tool too, with customer service close behind it at 64%.

Looking even deeper, here is how this same group of marketers answered the question, “For what reasons do you use social media?”

 resons they use sm106332


For those respondents who claimed not to be using social media, here are the responses as to their reasons why not to.

Reasons they don't106328 

 It’s no wonder that social media responsibility is shared between departments for nearly a third of marketers and very clear to see what exactly is stopping the majority of the non-users from leveraging it. Depending on how you look at it, this can either be an opportunity or a threat, whether you are an incumbent agency or a competitive agency trying to win some new business.

Goodbye Brand, Direct and Digital…Hello People to People Marketing!

October 8, 2009



person to person 2


Marketing communication has evolved from the early one-way media (TV, print, radio) to two-way media (Internet) and now multi-way media (social, mobile). As the lines between these channels and media are blurring so quickly, it has created an identity crisis among many agencies.

Can a direct marketing agency be effective without digital and social media skills? Can a digital agency deliver the best work without direct marketing skills? Is social media just another word for PR, or is it in fact the ultimate one to one medium?

Traditional marketing and advertising thinking is no longer effective as consumer media habits continue to evolve.  Branding is for all intents and purposes dead, as most consumers’ first impressions of a brand are what they find in search results or what they read from other people in reviews. As consumers circumvent traditional media approaches, they are gravitating towards those media/channels that provide easy access to information, advice and recommendations, plus allow them to socialize and be entertained at the same time. In the process, these consumers are building and refining their own trusted personal networks.

The opportunity for agencies and marketers alike is clear. Forget about continuing to structure your organization in silos like brand, direct, digital and social marketing, and start to think about People2People marketing. If you can integrate your marketing efforts and succeed in motivating customers not only to interact with you, but to share their personal networks with you, you will have created a powerful channel for your brand in the marketplace.

Those of you who are direct marketers will be disappointed to hear that targeting is dying too. As consumers change to pulling information as they want or need it, push marketing becomes less and less relevant no matter how “targeted” the marketer thinks it is. No longer can you just drop an email to your house file or run a banner campaign with the simple objective to sell more products or generate more leads. You have to become part of the conversation, where they are and when they want to have it. Also, keep in mind that conversations cannot be bought either, and if they are the community often quickly finds out and retaliates.

The new age of People2People agencies have to be experts in understanding consumer habits and expectations in this new media environment. They need to be the unbiased filter that prioritizes the media/channels and indentifies the ones that will yield the greatest ROI.

This new breed of agency will avoid the temptation to shout messages at consumers disrespectfully or target thousands of people multiple times (reach and frequency). Instead, they will embrace techniques that cultivate genuine and open dialogue with customers, where brands quietly listen and learn, and then respond with new features and product innovations that better match the needs of the consumer.

These agencies will be rewarded by clients who not only out perform their competitors, but also deliver industry leading financial results. You may be interested to know that in July 2009, a report by social platform provider Wetpaint and analyst firm Altimeter found that: “Companies deeply engaged in seven or more social channels (blogs, branded social websites, Facebook, Wikis, ratings and reviews etc.) significantly surpassed their peers in terms of both revenue and performance.

Future growth and success will be led by those agencies that embrace this new media environment and choose to become part of a new breed of People2People agencies. Those who remain siloed will continue to become less relevant over time and unable to deliver against evolving client expectations.




NFL Type Special Teams Are Perfect For Ad Agency New Business

October 5, 2009

special teams

Special teams have been used very successfully in the NFL for many years. While they may not be on the field all the time, team members with special skills are brought into the game when they are needed to help win that play. The same approach can be used very successfully for ad agency new business.

While most agencies have a specific area of expertise/experience for which they are known for, many of the agency staff members bring with them a much broader range of experience/expertise gained in other agency environments. Quite often this expertise is dissipated across the agency’s various departments and client teams, and never brought to bear in a cohesive and organized fashion. By not doing so, you may well be missing an excellent new business opportunity!

Over the years a number of agencies have been successful using this special teams approach to target and win additional new business. By bringing together in virtual teams’ staff members, who possess certain skills or experience, they were able to create a competitive offering in the marketplace. An excellent example is Leo Burnetts’ “Kid Leo” group. A virtual group of staff with specific expertise/experience marketing to kids. Other agency groups have built similar special teams focused around marketing to women.

Special teams are a great way to break into a new category. They allow you to leverage your existing resources without having to hire on new. They aggregate the collective expertise that already exists within the agency into a credible and saleable client offering. The special team provides additional job satisfaction to your staff by allowing them to showcase their past experience and gives them an additional challenge. Best of all, they open up new sources of revenue and new client opportunities for the agency.

The risk is relatively small. If it does not work out, at least you have not invested a huge amount of money and hired on overhead that you now have to let go. It’s a great way to prove out a concept and then bring on additional resources as required.

Try conducting a simple internal audit. Ask your staff to highlight any specific category, product or target segment expertise that they have. If you identify some interesting pockets, find out how broad or deep the expertise goes. They may even have existing client contacts that could be the targets of your initial new business approaches.

You never know, this may well be the start of something big!




New Business Opportunity for Ad Agencies…Web Analytics

October 1, 2009

Data aggregation

When Webtrends surveyed marketers worldwide about how to close the gap between data analysis and business action, their top answer was more knowledgeable staff. These marketers just self identified a real new business door opener for savvy agencies.

Smart agencies are always looking for a compelling reason for approaching new business prospects. Most have already found out that the offer of a credentials presentation is not the answer and most often leads to no response at all.

In this particular instance, marketers themselves have identified a specific frustration they are experiencing, as well as what they believe they require to help them solve it… More Knowledgeable Staff! Their problem, however, is that in the current economy, most marketers have had to cut their staff overheads to the bare minimum and hence do not have all the capabilities and smarts that they need on their marketing teams. According to Unica survey, 72% of marketers had no full time staff member devoted to analytics!

What could be a better new business door opener for a smart agency that can help them close the gap between data analysis and business action? Heck, there is even Independent research available to help agencies support their approach, and identify the specific issues that need solving.

Challenges with web analytics 

Of course this assumes that your agency has the capabilities to help the client:

  • Integrate data and results across all channels and from all possible sources.
  • Verify the accuracy of the data.
  • Simplify the data as much as possible and drill down to find the insights within it. (If you torture that data long enough, it will confess)
  • Develop a dashboard that’s easy to use and powered by real time, up to date information.

I once asked a client of mine what she attributed to her meteoric success within the company. Her answer was simply:

“She who owns the data has all the insights and therefore holds all the power”

A perspective that might be helpful as agencies consider the opportunity at hand and whether to pursue it or not.




New Media Predictions That May Scare the Life Out Of Most Ad Agencies

September 29, 2009


As we look toward the future, in almost every case new media’s operating revenues, when discounted for inflation, will never equal those that used to be generated by traditional media!

Vin Crosbie has been described as “The Practical Futurist” by Folio, the trade journal of the American Magazine Industry. The founder of Digital Deliverance LLC, and an adjunct professor at Syracuse University, he has over 31 years of media experience, 16 of which being in digital media.

Mr. Crosbie recently wrote a column for ClickZ in which he makes three new media predictions. These predictions are probably enough to scare the life out of most ad agency professionals and at very least will give them plenty to think about. Especially as they relate to the current ad agency business model and the revenue streams that support them. Here they are:

New media revenues won’t equal past traditional media revenues:  In almost all cases (excluding certain exceptions like Google), when discounted for inflation, new media operating revenues will never equal those that used to be generated by traditional media. A significant issue as consumers switch media consumption from traditional to new media.

Why? – Firstly, the economics of new media are based on surplus whereas those of traditional media were based on scarcity. Second, the internet tends more often than not, to eliminate the middle man (agencies plus media buying and planning companies). Advertisers can now go direct. Add to that the huge increase in consumer generated content and you have a new media system that is far more efficient than the old.

Newspapers and magazines can’t keep up:  Mr. Crosbie maintains that it is nearly too late for almost all daily newspapers and most news magazines. To survive, they should have made the necessary changes to their business models and infrastructures 5-10 years ago, in order to adapt to the new media. They did not because at that time the consumer’s hadn’t yet switched media consumption from print to online. They were profitable and such changes may not have paid out for 3-5 years or more.

US radio and TV will implode: The 80 year old affiliate structure of America’s radio and television industries is about to implode due to broadband new media. Why should a network continue to split commercial advertising time with local affiliates when it will be able to deliver programs directly to viewers’ TV sets? He predicts that there will be a bloodbath in the US television industry in the coming decade now that broadband is making the traditional model obsolete.

Sobering thoughts for an industry that was built upon media commissions earned through the role they played as intermediary. Sobering from a new media perspective too.




Mobile Marketing…The New Frontier For Ad Agency New Business Growth

September 25, 2009



While advertising dollars allocated to mobile marketing currently lag behind increased consumer usage, spending on mobile marketing is expected to increase significantly over the next five years. The opportunity is now for agencies to take the leadership position with their clients.

eMarketer estimates that mobile ad spending will increase from $416 million in 2009, to $1.56 Billion by 2013, outpacing online ad-spending as a whole. While the overall complexity of the medium may make it appear daunting to agencies and marketers alike, overcoming these complexities can pay dividends.

According to eMarketer, mobile marketing has an additive effect on other advertising and marketing efforts, and can bridge the gap between digital and traditional campaigns. It is also flexible, lending itself to both Direct Response and Brand reinforcement campaigns. Based on this perspective, who better to champion the mobile revolution than the agencies that create these campaigns.

I recently came across what I consider to be a best practice example of mobile marketing that truly does bridge the gap between digital and traditional campaigns. Major League Baseball (MLB) is a market leader in this area.  Not only do they do an incredible job in both the traditional and digital worlds, their iPhone application is nothing less than incredible.

Fans no longer have to be at the game or seated in front a TV screen at home or at some other venue. They don’t even need a computer with a high speed internet connection. Now fans can watch their favorite teams’ game live on their iPhone, no matter where they are. This includes all pre-game coverage and all the other added value content around the game. By the way, the quality of the overall experience is amazing. Other games can be subsequently viewed for a mere 99c.

Everything MLB does is targeted at enhancing the fans experience with both their favorite team and MLB overall and they deliver that in spades.

Perhaps the next killer app in mobile marketing will come from your agency for one of your clients.


Forrester Research Identifies Significant Challenges For Integrated Agencies

September 23, 2009

Integrated Mktng

Integrated Marketing, 360 Degree or whatever you want to call it marketing, continues to be the topic de jour among agencies and marketers alike. Many agencies are clamoring to reposition themselves as “Fully Integrated and Media Neutral”, capable of delivering work across the full media spectrum. Forrester’s latest research suggests that most clients may not be ready for such an agency.

According to a recent survey, conducted by Forrester Research on behalf of Merkle, most marketers lack a holistic view of their customers and communicate with them in multiple silos. As a result, these marketers are unable to adopt a customer centric approach, supported by strategies focused on maximizing total customer value. A situation that is the antithesis of what most integrated agencies offer.

Organization and technology are the biggest barriers: Most marketers claim that they want to send relevant messages to customers and communicate with them in a way that improves the brand experience. More than half of the respondents reported the lack of a single owner of the customer experience, which resulted in silo’d, inconsistent approaches and misaligned goals within the organization. If such a situation exists internally, how could the marketer possibly engage effectively with an integrated agency?

Very few marketers use customer engagement as a primary factor in their communications: Only 11% of marketers said customer engagement was primary and 32% said it’s often a factor. For 20% of respondents, it is seldom or never a factor.

“We struggle to measure customer engagement. We don’t have a system to manage it, in part because nobody has a singular responsibility for managing it. Unfortunately, it’s just not a priority.” (Hi-tech company)

Only one-third employ a contact strategy:  Only 35% say that they have a contact strategy designed to deliver the right message through the right medium at the right time.

Measurement doesn’t drive budget allocation: Almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) continue to allocate budgets across marketing disciplines based on historical spending, and 56% do so simply based on planned activity. Why? –  because that’s what they do. Media mix modeling – which allows marketers to understand the incremental impact of specific media and activity – is used by less than one-third of the respondents.

Marketers are missing the point more than half the time: When assigning credit for a sale or transaction, more than half attribute the activity to the most recent touch point. If a prospect saw a TV commercial, received a direct mail piece, three emails and then searched for an item and bought it from their company, the entire credit for the sale would be allocated to their SEM efforts. Less than a third of marketers calculate fractional attribution across all activity.

All that being said, it would appear that clients, especially the larger clients are not structured in the optimum way to be able to easily engage with an integrated agency. Their internal structures tend to support the ongoing use of independent specialists focused on supporting each of the silos.

That’s probably why everyone has been chasing the Holy Grail of marketing for years now, and the chase will probably continue for years to come.




Effective Use of Voicemail in Ad Agency New Business Prospecting

September 22, 2009


Voicemail can be a very effective tool for new business prospecting when used correctly. Incorrectly used it quickly leads you to a dead end and high levels of frustration for both client and agency alike.

It’s becoming harder and harder to reach prospective clients through cold calling. Armed with defensive tools such as caller ID, personal assistants, and the dreaded voicemail box, most clients have become very adept at avoiding cold calls from agencies. According to the AAAA’s, most clients receive 8-9 unsolicited agency approaches every month. No wonder they are running for cover.

You can try calling during fringe hours to try and catch them of guard and try all the other tricks in the book. The reality is that most of your calls will go straight to the prospect’s voicemail box and, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will end up having to leave a voicemail message. However, this is not the end of the world.

Voicemail messages can be a very effective way of getting your message through to the client and peaking their interest in your agency. Sometimes, enough interest to actually get them to answer your call on your next attempt. Here are a few tips to help you deliver more effective cold calling voicemails:

  • Keep them short and do not leave one every time you call. (One new business person showed me their call log for a specific client. They had made over 150 phone calls over four months and left only 5 voicemails. She got through to the client after the fifth voicemail, secured an initial presentation and was subsequently awarded the business).
  • Develop a series of voicemails that each shares a different piece of information about your agency and how you might bring value to the client’s business. (Think of it as dropping a series of breadcrumbs for them to follow)
  • Practice leaving voicemails so that you sound confident and eloquent when the prospect listens to them. Avoid leaving confused and rambling voicemails full of Um’s. They end up being deleted within the first few seconds of playback.

Remember, clients hate receiving cold calls as much as you hate making them. So think your voicemails through before leaving them and make every one count.




Effective Ad Agency New Business Cold Calling

September 21, 2009

cold calling

With all the technology firepower available today to salespeople, it’s understandable why many of us don’t use the phone anymore. The problem is that it is so easy to delete, unsubscribe, and opt-out of our attempts to reach them, never mind even starting a relationship with them.

 With all the technology firepower available today to salespeople, it’s understandable why many of us don’t use the phone anymore.  With automated email deployment programs, lead scoring/nurturing systems, and “smart” video tracking software – much of the legwork can be done for us.  It is as simple as loading up your pipeline from a credible data source, developing smart emails with intriguing headlines, deploying your campaigns through one of the many off-the-shelf online CRM programs available – and then sitting back and watching your dashboards and alerts light-up.
As a new biz person, I know lots of agencies that use these automated lead generation programs to fill their pipeline.  I use them myself as a trolling tactic looking for hand-raisers who actually open and read one of my messages.
But I often wonder if our prospects feel automated as well?  With a constant stream of unsolicited emails in their inbox from people and companies they don’t know, it is so easy to delete, unsubscribe, and opt-out to our attempts to reach, not to mention, starting a relationship with them.  
At the risk of sounding old school, I must admit that the phone is my primary tool that I use to reach my most-desirable prospects. And yes, I make cold-calls – about 30-40 attempts a day (an attempt is the number of times you actually pick up the phone and dial the number).   Over the years, I have found that a disciplined approach to professional persistence can pay-off (so to speak) and help you make your numbers.  
Cold calling is typically not a skill most agencies teach their new business people.  The phrase itself conjures up visions of a sleazy used car salesperson.  But with practice, one can become good on the phone and start to break through the clutter of automated prospecting.  Here are some tips to help you make the phone your friend:
Find a reliable data source that has direct phone numbers of the contacts you need to reach.  Lots of people who claim to make cold-calls are simply spending their time tracking down the information they need vs. making the actual call. (Access Confidential is a great support resource for this)

  • Do your homework. Research your prospects’ industry, their company, their competition, identify what might be their business challenges, be aware of current campaigns they are running, their target consumer, new product launches, new personnel, etc.
  • Develop a list of open-ended questions based on your research.  Write down smart, open-ended questions that will help you guide the conversation and hopefully reveal the opportunity for the agency.  Make cheat sheets of the questions and display them prominently so you can be quick on your feet.  
  • Articulate your relevancy.  Be able to very quickly articulate why your agency is relevant to their business. Never forget you are interrupting their day so make it as worthwhile to them as possible.
  • Role-play.  You really only have one chance to make a good impression so I encourage people to role-play phone calls.  Ask a co-worker, friend, peer, to be the prospect and practice calling into them. Ask them to be tough – but fair – and be open to constructive criticism. It is better to practice on someone you know vs. the prospect.
  • Keep call records.  There are lots of products available that can help you maintain and schedule your call activity.
  • Use strategic, relationship-building voicemail. The key to voicemail is to keep them short and to not leave one every time you call.  Practice leaving voicemails for yourself and critique them.   Develop a series of voicemails per prospect that leaves a different piece of information about your agency per message (think of dropping breadcrumbs) that will build upon the last messages. If the prospect starts to become interested in you and listens to your voicemails (vs. just deleting) then when you do connect on the phone they will know a bit more about you and the conversation won’t be as cold. 



Your Ad Agency Doesn’t Know What a Twestival Is… Opportunity Missed?

September 18, 2009

A Twestival is a Twitter charity festival; a cross between a tweetup and a fundraiser. The global initiative was born on January 8, 2009 with a single tweet asking cities to join together and hold their own Twestivals on February 12th to support charity: water.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, with more than 200 cities and 1,000 volunteers all working together to bring in over $250,000 for the cause.

The Twestival concept is a perfect example of the new marketing opportunities that can be created by both marketers and agencies alike. This idea brings together the viral power of social media, the entertainment value of live events and leverages the communications power of the web simultaneously.

As I learnt more about the concept it brought to mind the following question: did this innovative idea come from a social media agency, an event agency, a digital agency, a PR agency or even a brand agency? The answer is that in reality it did not come from an agency at all. Probably because as agencies, we are still thinking in silos, and have not yet even begun to embrace the current iterations of technology and new media. Let alone pioneer innovative new hybrid models.  


The Twestival concept not only combines social media with the impact of live events. If you can’t make it out to any of the events, you can follow what’s happening on the web and can even watch it all live. ScribbleLive has partnered with Twestival to provide a real-time feed to keep pace with all tweets and displaying photos inline, using the #twestival hashtag. You can watch the main stream and map view (it’s like Twittervision just for Twestival) for a complete real-time view of what the world is tweeting and sharing about Twestival, or you can use the city tag cloud to narrow your view.


If you are still not blown away by all that, Animoto have teamed with Twestival to give both attendees and organizers a way to capture and share their event memories in splashy video form. These can then be shared via the web.


Twestival is probably one of the best examples of a truly innovative integrated new media campaign. This is the type of creativity and innovation that agency partners are going to have to provide to their clients in order to stay relevant and win more new business.



To read more about Twestival Local on  click here


Ad Agency New Business Beyond Web 2.0

September 17, 2009

Web 2.0 alt

Is the role of the ad agency becoming redundant as a result of today’s online customers being both producers, and consumers of their own content? What happens if these consumer experiences and content become more interesting than the advertising and marketing being produced by ad agencies? Will there continue to be an agency business at all, let alone new business?

As consumers embrace more Web 2.0 experiences, they gain more and more brand control. Even as a write this post, 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 brands are links to user generated content. Consumers are doing things that marketers don’t expect and don’t necessarily want them to do. Their perspectives are trusted by fellow consumers far more than any company advertising or marketing messages, and those perspectives are normally brutally honest and very quickly disseminated. The reality is that brands cannot outspend or out-shout this consumer generated content. They have to find a way to try and be a part of it and proactively manage the conversations as best as possible.

That being the case, how do agencies generate new business opportunities and continue to provide a valuable and relevant service to marketers as Web 2.0 quickly accelerates into Web 3.0? Here are a few thought starters:

  • A key challenge for marketers (and opportunity for agencies) remains the need to identify the key insights on which to build the brand upon and then decide where they want to take the conversation from there.
  • According to respected social media blogger, Jason Falls (, there are conversations happening everywhere and most brands don’t have the right people to manage them. Who better to provide the right people than the agency?
  • Listen! Your agency should have a formal process and tools to support listening to what consumers are saying about the brand/product/service, and then utilize this information to generate ideas that help get you a foot in the door.
  • Two recent studies conducted by Altimeter Group /Wetpaint and Razorfish indicated that the stronger the brand’s social media presence, the better the brand performed – whether measured in conversations or in financial performance. A great segue into new business discussions with both existing and prospective clients.




Unsolicited Ad Agency New Business Mailings…Winning strategies

September 16, 2009


Depending on the size of the client company, they will receive on average somewhere between 7-8 unsolicited agency mailings/approaches every month. That adds up to between 84-96 a year. Here’s how you can make yours stand out and avoid the pitfalls.

As a result of aggressive agency new business outreach programs, clients are being inundated with agency new business solicitations on a weekly basis. As you can imagine, most of them end up either going straight into the trash can or being deleted. Breaking through the clutter has never been harder. Here are some actual client tips that should help make your agency’s efforts more effective:

What appeals to the prospective client?

  • Materials quickly demonstrated relevance to my business.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of my business and understanding of my category, market, brand and company.
  • Professional presentation, solid company with a good reputation/years of experience in the industry
  • Materials were simple, short, concise and straightforward.
  • Previous work examples and industry experience.
  • Appeared cost effective with an ability to work within a budget.
  • Relevant, remarkable case studies supported with results.
  • Creativity demonstrated by new fresh ideas and innovative use of new media and technology.

What is an instant turn off?

  • Pushy and hard core selling.
  • Materials are all about the agency and not relevant to me and my business.
  • Ignorance or lack of understanding of my business/market.
  • Nothing unique. Too generic.
  • Content is irrelevant and solicitation is poorly targeted.
  • Solicitation is too flashy, over the top or too contrived. Avoid the tchotchke.
  • Presentation is too long, too contrived and too difficult to read. Just plain poor communication.
  • It is not immediately clear to me why this was sent to me and why it might be relevant to me.

“Only pitch business you are willing to take the time to really do the due diligence to pursue. Make it less about you, the agency, and more about the client.”

Credit for reference content: AAAA’s agency search research study conducted by MillwardBrown.


Differentiate Your Ad Agency OR Get Lost Amongst The Masses!

September 15, 2009

agency differentiation

If you want your agency to succeed you have to have a compelling reason for being! Every agency inherently knows that it needs to differentiate itself from the competitors. Hell, they preach it to their clients every day. Why is it then that most agencies all look and sound alike?

There is no differentiation in claiming to be a digital agency or social media agency, filled with experts in the field. There are hundreds if not thousands of agencies out there with the same capabilities. Differentiation does come from a “proprietary agency process” that we like to tout as being unique. Clients find such claims laughable. And while great work is always of interest to clients, in and of itself it is not a differentiator. Now finally to my pet peeve. Claiming to be a fully integrated, seamless, 360 degree or full service agency DEFINITELY is not differentiating. In fact it’s not even believable, but that’s a subject for another post.

True differentiation comes from within the agency. It starts with agency leadership and the tone that they set. It’s built on internal beliefs, ideals, values and the combined capabilities of the team. It’s influenced by the type of clients you have, the nature of the working relationship that exists and the type and essence of the work you do for them. At the end of the day, it’s ultimately more about personality than capability.

My past experience has taught me that quiet often even agency staff members cannot readily articulate what differentiates their agency when asked the question. It therefore follows that if they don’t know, how do you expect clients to know, especially prospective clients. And of course it goes without saying that if you talk the talk, to be authentic you must walk the walk. If you don’t, clients quickly see through the smoke and mirrors.

Agency’s that have a truly differentiated positioning that is aligned with their business strategy and goals have no trouble growing and being successful. They are constantly making sure that staff members and clients (both existing and potential) Know who they are and what make them different.

 Those who do not or perhaps just find it difficult to maintain faith in their ideals struggle to survive. They have no reason for coming in to work every day other than a paycheck.




Social Media: Ad Agencies Just Don’t Get It.

September 14, 2009

My agency does not get it 

Social media is the antithesis of advertising. Most traditional agencies do not have the required social media skills and they struggle with how to integrate it into their overall marketing communications plans. The minority, who get it, have competitive advantage!

Awareness Networks recently hosted a webinar titled, “Social Media: Your Agency Does Not Get It…Who Does?” The speaker was Jason Falls (, a well known and respected blogger in the public relations and social media space. What makes Jason particularly relevant to the ad agency world is that he has worked with and for a host of marketing agencies.

I have listed below  a link to the podcast of the session, however before you go ahead and view it, here are some interesting highlights I wanted to share with you:

  • Most agencies tell the client that they can do anything. They then go right ahead and outsource the work. Given that the very essence of social media is transparency, agencies should either be up front with the client or invest in the capabilities beforehand.
  • He suggested a series of questions that clients ask agencies before awarding them the work. I thought you might like to know what they were, in case one of your clients was listening to the podcast:
    • What is the strategy behind your recommendations?
    • Who does the strategy
    • Does the agency have a blog?
    • Are the agencies employees on Twitter?
    • Can you share several case studies for other client work?
    • What social media mistakes have you made and what did you learn from them?
    • Who does the execution?
  • Jason maintains that ROI is easy to measure in social media, if your media programs are aligned with clear business goals.
  • The biggest challenge brands face is that there are conversations happening everywhere and most brands do not have the right people to manage social media.
  • In social media there is no B2B or B2C. It all about People2People.

I highly recommend this podcast for all agency management and new business professionals. It is especially relevant if you are thinking of expanding into social media or alternatively, currently claiming to be experts in the space without really having the ware with all to honestly deliver.