5 things your Ad Agency should tell you, but probably won’t.

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Marketing Myths. Five things.

Headlines like this are used by agency people these days to pique interest and are, as a wise man once told me, ‘unbeatable in a world with short attention spans’. So for client side marketers with little time here are 5 things your advertising agency should tell you. But probably won’t.

1. “Planning is bipolar ”

Most agencies either offer ‘Dry’ planning, where number hungry nerds ‘lean on the data’ to a point where it offers no insight, or ‘Wet’ planning, where number blind idea merchants prefer to stumble in the dark, on their gut instinct. ‘Research is like a lamppost – it should light the way, not be leant on like a drunk’. But they won’t tell you that.

2. “You can’t herd cats” ‘Creatives’ are like cats.

Like most cats, ‘creatives’ can tend to be independent, a little unsociable, a little vain and very easily distracted with toys. They seek comfort on their terms and will bring you a recycled unsold idea like a dead mouse if they can. Agency ‘management’ stroke egos and pander to the creatives’ main purpose. Agencies may employ creatives, but creatives work for their portfolio. But they won’t tell you that.

3. “We’ll keep the discounts we earn if we think we can”

In most media buying firms the media planning and buying comes down to one thing: %. In business, you are what you are paid. If an agency is paid a % then it’s a salesman. But is it selling for you, themselves or the media channel? All too often media departments take the line of least resistance, the easy / lazy option. The traditional solutions ‘everyone’ understands and where there are big rebates and discounts to keep. But they won’t tell you that.

4. “Awards don’t equal effectiveness”

Agencies don’t enter creative awards to prove that the work they do is effective. They do it a little in the hope that winning will impress prospective clients, but most of all so the creative teams can add accolades to their portfolios in order to get better salaries or jobs. Many ‘award-winning’ campaigns are actually damaging to a brand’s performance. But they won’t tell you that.

5. “We don’t really understand brands”

The word brand is bandied about by agencies and is a complicated concept. Branding is a strategic organisational mission, not a marketing add on. Advertising creates slick messages. But in today’s economy, consumers have little trust in such corporate messages and they’re paying less and less attention. They ‘buy’ (and re-buy) brands on performance, not only perceptions. Brand development concerns every aspect of your business’ performance and perception. Branding runs through processes, R&D, sales, production, supply chains, operations, etc. But Ad agencies won’t tell you that.

(This article by Nick Eggleton is edited from his article that appeared in The West Australian ‘West Business – Out to Market’ on 28th April 2014)