Often, CMO’s and other brand leaders believe they need an advertising agency to help solve their marketing problems. So, they follow a traditional RFP approach to find a traditional agency, and are inundated with proposals all largely claiming the same experience, expertise and results. This scenario has played out tens of thousands of times over the past four decades.
However, much to our pleasant surprise, there seems to be a growing disdain for this traditional agency selection process. More and more CMO’s are realizing that consumers have changed a lot in 40 years, and that traditional advertising just isn’t providing the kind of results it once did. They’re recognizing they need a better way to find better partners capable of providing better solutions to their business and marketing problems.
How to find the right partner is a topic for another day. Today I want to address what type of partner to look for.
Advertising vs. Engagement = Buying vs. Buying In
Question: Do you want more customers to buy your stuff, or more customers to buy into what you stand for?
If the former, hire a traditional ad agency. Customers are fickle. Short-term, transactional relationships are easy to purchase if you shout loud enough and discount deeply enough. Advertising agencies excel at doing that.
There are thousands of talented individuals willing and able to create clever messages and buy media that reaches the largest audience possible.
There are thousands of talented individuals willing and able to create clever messages and buy media that reaches the largest audience possible. The traditional agency business model rewards them for making websites, designing flyers, producing TV, and buying large volumes of paid media. Their approach may differ slightly in how they come up with creative ideas, but the end result is almost always some type of creative communication. Often, they’re very good.
Three problems with the traditional advertising approach:
- Consumers are inundated with ads. So much so that they purchase technology to skip commercials, block spam, listen to commercial-free stations, and remove web banners. They also unsubscribe, opt out and nail “No Soliciting” signs on their homes. Consumers don’t want more ads.
- Research has proven that people no longer trust advertising. Even if your lucky enough to have your messages be seen, odds are people will dismiss them as untrue or irrelevant.
- Most significant marketing or business problems aren’t solved with clever messages. Communications may cure some symptoms but they don’t fix the real problem.
an engagement agency will ensure your brand is relevant to the consumers you want to actually attract and engage.
Three Things Engagement Agencies Excel At
Engagement agencies use different tactics to provide better results.
- Brand Relevance: First and foremost, an engagement agency will ensure your brand is relevant to the consumers you want to actually attract and engage. They determine if your brand value propositions is in fact valuable, and if your core differentiators are in fact differentiating.
- Customer Profiling: Then they profile and segment customers in a way that allows you to cater to the 10-30% of customers who are too valuable to lose (your cult following).
- Customer Journey: Finally, they identify and improve upon all the touch points where customers engage your brand, including non-advertising assets like your in-store experience, product/service, culture, associates, call centre, etc. They rely on subject matter experts capable of identifying and removing any and all barriers preventing a brand from reaping the benefits of a cult-like status. As a result, advertising is one thing they do, but rarely the only thing.
The Simple Answer
If you want better ads, hire an ad agency. If you want engaged customers with a die-hard affinity for your brand, hire an engagement agency.
Better yet, hire Cult.