What good is an ad agency?

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

In today’s world of SEO, Blogger, Twitter, banner ads, Linkedin, etc. marketers have more choices and opportunity to connect with their customers directly, without having to utilize traditional media or even an ad agency. It’s also true that having your customers creating buzz about your product or service is the best form of advertising. If all of this is true, (and there is still a raging debate about if the internet is the silver bullet marketers are looking for) then why aren’t there more business succeeding beyond their wildest dreams? Why aren’t there more entrepreneurs getting rich within one or even two years? Isn’t Google, SEO, and blogging the lethal combination that leads to business domination?

So what good is an ad agency? From what I see, there still is something lacking in the “Google is all you need” marketing strategy. Many entrepreneurs I personally know are still trying to establish and stabilize their small businesses and, in some cases, trying to just survive. Corporations are trying to keep what they have, let alone, gain market share and increase profitability.

The true value of an ad agency is Big Ideas and creativity. That’s what we do. That’s what we are great at. Just like your business is great at what you do. You’re great at making a widget, but not at corporate law. That’s why you hire lawyers. Your company is great at what it does and no company is great at everything. This is especially true when it comes to marketing. Granted, ad agencies must change to stay relevant in today’s business environment. They can no longer make a living on media commissions and other mark-ups. They must bring real value to the table. Big ideas and creativity is our currency. You are still marketing to humans. And all humans are effected by their senses. We all want to enrich our lives beyond the utilitarian purpose of a widget or basic service. We want experiences. We want as many of our 5 senses to be engaged as possible. We also want to be wowed, surprised, and enlightened. It is these big ideas and creative strategy that delivers on an emotional level. It goes beyond just rankings and clicks. A brilliant brand position reaches customers on an emotional level. It touches their “dreams” and allows them to see the possibilities. A great creative message, both verbal and visual, allows customers to feel like you understand how they feel and you have something that will help. Look at it this way, is $200,000 worth investing in a big idea if the potential is worth $1,000,000?

I do believe the internet is a great tool. It’s connection and reach is undeniable. But, it’s the CREATIVE integration of online and offline that delivers a powerful, compelling message and brand to your audience. And one of the most important key to your business success is having and executing big ideas in a creative way. Any ad agency worth its salt knows that’s what they MUST deliver.

I invite your thoughts and comments about what value you see and ad agency has.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

9 Responses to “What good is an ad agency?”

  1. Hi,

    Completely agree. Communication can never be driven by SEO or technology. Ad agency or I would rather say ‘communication agency’ needs to keep pace with time and if the target audience is spending time online than it needs to find ways of impacting the ‘senses’ even in this environment. Needs to get over the rather cold appeal of technology and provide avenues for meaningful dialogue. And that would only come from a very powerful insight getting converted into an equally powerful creative idea. And no, SEO experts or digital media experts are not yet there…

  2. Thank you for your reply. I agree that the SEO experts aren’t there yet, but I don’t think they’re built that way. They are more of a information, data driven group where creative and big ideas are more of a gut feeling and intuition.

    I appreciate your insights and please continue to comment where you agree or disagree. Your input is valuable and I can always learn something new. If it would help your cause in any way, please feel free to link from this site to yours and visa versa.

    Best Wishes,

  3. Hi Tony,

    I think the win win situation would be when a creative person is part of the group of SEO experts… or is the intuitive factor that adds creativity to the process. Given the context, the two cannot operate in separate silos… Need to work together.

  4. You’re definitely right. In fact, one of my partners is an SEO expert. Our marketing, design, and SEO people work closely together, at the same time. That way we don’t “design” ourselves into a corner. It also assures our clients’ site still emotionally engages and delights. It’s definitely a balance of logic and emotion. Based on the product/service, one will have more weight than the other, but neither is absent from any project.

  5. Its great! at least someone is heading in the right direction. I just wish this becomes a movement. Advertising industry, I think, is at a crossroad and thoroughly confused and they surely need direction. and if digital is the future, then collaboration would be the key

  6. Thank you. You’re spot on about the advertising industry IS at a crossroad. We all need to adapt or risk becoming irrelevant. What’s your view on how much will digital will play in the new marketing space vs. offline tactics (traditional media)? And what’s your viewpoint on the prospect that traditional media will become unnecessary or will it still play a role in the overall marketing and advertising budget?

  7. Hi,

    Sorry about the delayed response. To answer your question, increasingly I think digital would gain importance because the consumer is spending time in the digital space but its kind of tricky though. A cluttered screen is not going to help if we carry forward our mindset from yesteryears into the new space to communicate. And traditional media wont die because it has its uses too. Essentially I see an integration of both the mediums – traditional & non traditional. I don’t know if you would agree, but IPTV is a platform where the convergence happens and as the mobile technology becomes more advanced everything moves to the handset so I guess we need to have the pulse on the evolution process and how the audience is consuming the media…

  8. *finger on the pulse of the evolution… typo 🙂

  9. You’ve hit upon a point that I believe is going to be an important key in the future too: mobile marketing. That’s a wonderful blend of internet, traditional marketing, and promotional marketing. The main aspect I see is that not only does the message have to be on target, but what cool “gift” (apps, games, tools, etc.) are you going to give customers in exchange to viewing your ad and/or interacting with your company? And that gift needs to be relevant to your brand as well as their lifestyle.

    I agree that IPTV is also going to be another channel to engage with consumers. To me, it’s the mass reach of TV with the accountability of the internet.

    With all of the new technologies going live at a pace where it’s hard for everyone to keep up, having a consistent brand that is on point and conveys a core emotional stance will become even MORE important. With all of the new and traditional media streams and social networks, it’s your brand that will be the constant that threads all of your advertising and social tactics together. Without that, you’re brand and message becomes too fragmented and disjointed.

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