Advertising and marketing agencies largely say the same thing. Some variation of “we’re a full-service, integrated agency that builds relationships by leveraging the power to solve blah blah blah.” Big, small, traditional, and digital, some variation of that phrase will make its way onto your desk. Now you’re in charge of finding an agency partner that can make you look smarter by solving a problem your brand has.
How do you choose an ad agency?
You reach out to agencies you’ve Googled/heard about and request a proposal or information from them. In return you get a presentation that’s beautifully designed that follows this cadence:
* Here’s our agency and how great we are (we have beer on tap!)
* We’re a top XX of something (We’re super creative)
* We’ve won these awards (the budget was $3 million to produce it but you don’t need to know that)
* We work/worked with these big brands (they’re huge and recognizable)
* We would do this to your business (we know your business better than you and did we mention we’re creative?)
You select 3-4 to present; they bring a team of 6-8 and are more than impressive with their creative capabilities. But there’s 1 that stands out and you ask them to work with you. You and the agency are excited about this new partnership and you kick it off.
Now you’re 6 months in and the agency needs more money to execute the plan you’re in love with. Or you’re starting to question the $1,000 for every hour-long conference call. You rationalize it because there are 6 people on their end, even though 5 don’t speak. Your agency says you’re out of creative revisions but you haven’t been able to tie down the 4 internal stakeholders who all need to weigh in so feedback comes in waves. Or maybe you’re shooting a commercial and there are 20 – 30 people producing it, 5 of whom seem to be working.
Obviously there’s a whole host of creative talent around the table but no one who understands your business drivers. It’s at this point where creative, no matter how funny, clever, gut-wrenching, and smart doesn’t solve the problem. Sure it helps, but it’s not the silver bullet.
You start to analyze the situation you’re in.
In hindsight, did the agency, or any agencies for that matter, ask you why your original RFP came about? Did they attempt to learn more about how your business actually works or did they make assumptions based on the 8-page request you sent them? Did they dive deeper beyond marketing/advertising capabilities or tell you that you need to be doing things differently, more than likely their way?
And now you realize that the upfront is where this all began to unfold. An agency excited about the opportunity rather than asking the questions that would make them smarter about how they can help.
It’s at that point where problems start. And why we started Squid.
If you’re still reading this you’re either a family member helping increase our average time on site (thanks!) or because this resonates with you. Although you realize this post is obviously taking a self-promotional turn, you’re interest is peaked because this hit a bit too close to home.
We feel your pain—we’ve been in your shoes. Half of us have been on those agency teams that never took the time to learn about your brand and business. The other half has experience trying to hire an agency to tie big ideas to a strategy that impacts the business. And we don’t believe in having 12 people working on your business, 10 of them junior staff and not part of the original team that pitched you. It just doesn’t justify that blended $150 hourly rate nor do you get to a solution fast enough.
It’s exhausting. It’s infuriating. It impacts your work. You start to hate agencies.
Those major pain points are why we’re here. The world didn’t need another advertising agency. The world needed a better agency model.
We lead with strategy instead of creative. We use independent partners with decades of experience who are tired of traditional agency bullshit. Our expertise ranges as far as the big guys but only when the brand needs it. We’re small, nimble, efficient, and cost-effective. We scale up when the brand needs it, and scale back when it doesn’t, always with strategy at the heart of what we put together.
And we’re creative. We can show that in spades. But modern brands deserve something more.
We’re the orange in the agency fruit basket full of apples. Some apples are big, some small. Some are red, some are green. But we’re the orange. We’re not for everyone, we shouldn’t be for everyone, and we don’t want to be for everyone. But everyone deserves the option of having something different.
So if you’re tired of apples or have a taste for something different, might we suggest you try an orange?