Advertising Agency Failures
Most of us think less of people who are process driven because we know that everything you do should serve a distinct and viable purpose.
At the end of the day, the processes that do not serve any real purpose drive most of us crazy because they appear to be a waste of our time. They trap us into a structure that may inhibit our ability to complete the task at hand and we fell belittled.
Worse still, the purveyor of the useless process is looked down upon. It is obvious to everyone that they lack authority and follow processive rules because the process is how they are measured. Not by the end results.
Marketing is filled with useless process. Advertising is even worse. The world is filled with failed advertising campaigns.
Don’t Have Your Agency Solve the Wrong Problem
Here then is the greatest caveat to businesses and brands looking to grow their market share: Be very careful that your advertising agency is not solving the wrong problem. It is the most common of advertising agency failures. A brand agency is a different set of equities.
Because of the way in which advertising agencies are structured, they cannot help but be process driven. From the moment the new business team pitches your account to the billing and service issues that announce the end of your relationship with them, the ad agency is driven to create ads. Sometimes, that relationship can create failed campaigns.
What if your problem is not the ads? What if your problem is not reach and frequency? What if the problem is not the unique selling proposition? What if the problem is simply that your messaging is not being heard at all? What if no one you wish to influence thinks your message is important?
This is not a dilemma the ad agency worries about. Their model is quite simple actually. You hire them, they take a cursory look at your market, the account team tries to become your friend, the creative team makes the ads, you pay for the creation and the agency has the ads placed in a media that they believe will reach your target audience.
Did you ever wonder where the knowledge about persuading your prospects comes from? Well, it actually comes from you. The advertising agency does not have as its greatest goal your success. Quite to the contrary. The focus of an ad agency is to have you “like” the ads so that your relationship continues and they get to bill you again. Remember that because you like the ads does not mean that the campaign is great. You can like it and can still be a failure.
Research shows that, despite protestations to the opposite, most agencies lose clients because of service or billing issues. Effectiveness rarely comes into play because they are not chartered with being effective. They are instead commissioned to keep you pleased.
Judging Their Work
How do you judge the work they provide you? It can’t be sales unless you are running a double blind test launch of two campaigns in “like” but distinct markets. Only then can you actually compare one campaign to another.
The way in which most advertisers decide whether an ad campaign is good or not is to either measure how much they themselves like the ads or how much a focus group likes the ads. In both cases all they measure is likability and not effectiveness. There is no acceptable way to measure or predict effectiveness from a message or campaign. None. There are lots of processes to do it like day after recall and focus groups but they are simply processes. As Coach John Wooden famously stated, “Never confuse activity with accomplishment.” The fact is the advertising agency failures are part of their fabric.
Predictive effectiveness in advertising and marketing can be found in strategy, not tactical execution. Think about this just for a moment. An average project by Stealing Share takes six to eight months to complete. Our final deliverable is a complete understanding of the customers who are not choosing you, a measuring of the switching triggers and an analysis of the highest emotional intensity in the market. You have the strategy before the execution.
A Strategic Way to fix advertising agency failures
Choose a brand agency. We start in a different place and, at least at Stealing Share, we solute a different flag. We look to solve the problem and not be part of the problem. We find these solutions through a strategic process that includes research, behavior modeling and strategic analysis. But we don’t create ads. It takes us all this time to uncover the real problem and provide the right strategic solution.
The average agency comes up with a new campaign in six weeks. A better use of your money is to fix the problem, then give the agency the six weeks it needs to execute a share stealing strategy. There are no short cuts. Maybe that’s why the average life expectancy of an agency of record is less than three years.
As Coach Wooden said, “If you always do what you’ve always done you will always end up where you have always been.”