Common Misconceptions About Agencies

Melissa-Williams_small-By Melissa Williams, Proofreader/Office Coordinator

If a client asked you to define marketing in 10 seconds, could you do it? That seems to be the challenge many agencies face when attempting to market their services. How do we describe what it is that we do to a skeptical audience? There are often misconceptions that can hinder a business from working with an agency. Let’s debunk the three we hear most often.

Myth #1: My product can sell itself.

This misconception stems from the idea that “if you build it, they will come,” and that is just not true anymore. For a brand to remain relevant, it must keep up with marketing trends. Without the help of an agency, someone in that organization would have to conduct research regularly to know what will attract the modern consumer and where to reach them. Agencies already have this information because it is what we do! Agencies help businesses pick out the unique and exceptional aspects of their product or service to market and then place that message in the perfect channel. Marketing messages are everywhere, and the right agency will know how to cut through the noise to attract the client’s target audience and drive results.

Take media for example. Media usage is consistently evolving, whether that is print, social, radio or TV. Not only is media evolving, business is evolving. For example, 20 years ago, a radio ad would be sufficient to pack out a concert. Now with streaming platforms such as Pandora and Spotify that allow you to pay to skip over ads, how do you reach your target? Multiple avenues of media.

Myth #2: Marketing does not drive ROI.

The nemesis of marketing is instant gratification. How do you sell something that does not prove its value until the next fiscal quarter? Consider this: We are all consumers. And purchase cycles can vary greatly by the products we consume. What influenced your last purchase? Aside from the things you purchase regularly, like toothpaste, you saw an ad somewhere and decided to try a new product. Let’s say it was a sandwich. Sure, you’ve had sandwiches before, and you can buy a sandwich almost anywhere. You could even make your own sandwich; so why did you choose to try a new one? Marketing. You heard a message about that sandwich or a video of someone eating a sandwich and said, “hey, that looks pretty good.” How did Burger King convince thousands of people to try a burger made from plants? How did Old Spice convince men to change their body wash with one Super Bowl ad?

“Old Spice showed an attractive man telling the female audience that their man could smell like him if he uses Old Spice.” Could anyone actually smell Isaiah Mustafa through the TV? Of course not, but “Old Spice saw over 40 million views on YouTube and a 10% increase in body wash sales.”

Myth #3: Marketing agencies are snake oil salesmen.

OK, this one hurts a little. We understand that selling an “intangible” service can feel slippery, but we know what we are doing. However, based on what businesses use to evaluate agencies, the general service we provide is not in question. The overarching concern for business owners is who they are trusting with their brand.

According to Forbes author Ed Mitzen, there are six things to watch out for when dealing with an ad agency:

  1. 1. Consider shifting from traditional pitch to a workshop format.
  2. 2. Pay attention to how your agency makes you feel.
  3. 3. Be sure your ad agency brings passion to your work.
  4. 4. Look for signs of innovation and proactivity.
  5. 5. Keep an eye on how your agency is staffing your business.
  6. 6. Evaluate your happiness with your agency’s work.

None of these things say market research, copywriting, design, public relations, product sales or web development. What they reflect is a hope that the agency of choice will represent their brand well.

Marketing is more than image quality and catchy copy; it is knowing how to effectively connect with everyday people. It is convincing people who have had more sandwiches in their life than they could possibly count to try a new sandwich. Agencies can help your brand do just that!