NDlon

Agency Strategy

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In the digital era, what sort of agency do you really need to promote your brand? 

It used to be obvious

If you wanted to sell your business to customers back in the 1930’s or 1950’s, you knew what to do.  You went to an advertising agency and found the best of them; someone who had the knack of digging into your business and working out what the magical message was that would sell your product time and again.

One of the most read books in Advertising since the early 1900’s was Obvious Adams by Robert R. Updegraff.  It tells a short story (less than 30 pages in fact) of a young man that looks to join the advertising industry, then in its heyday, with a singular ability to probe his client’s business and look for the obvious answer of how to promote them. 

To quote the book:

One of our great troubles today is that we have too many accepted methods and practises, too much complicated machinery and too many tool, too many customs and traditions that are too well established.  We think and plan on an as is basis, building on top of a frozen foundation of accumulated habit and experience.

Working out what agency works for your business is not so easy today.  Does a digital agency have what it takes to do everything you need?  Or, is that thinking part of YOUR frozen foundation?

How marketing has changed recently

 Since the turn of 2023, artificial intelligence and robotic automation by software have combined to make a profound impact on the marketing industry.

Humans selling stuff has become hard to justify

It’s now quicker and more cost effective to hire a software robot than a business executive to find and acquire new customers. Furthermore, talk to B2B customers (as Gartner has) and over 85% would prefer not to speak to a salesperson. 

Content on websites has become largely valueless

It’s become so easy for lowly skilled individuals to use AI powered script writers like ChatGPT to produce a white paper or a technical guide to a ‘reasonable standard’ that these traditional cornerstone content instruments have become practically worthless.  Anyway, for most of us, if we want to learn anything, it’s become easier to ask ChatGPT for the answer (and let it do the search and discovery, analysis and interpretation, aggregation and sense-checking  etc. for us) rather than spend hours asking Google.  Why would anyone bother reading your Guide or White Paper?

 Social media has become swamped with ‘me-too’

Software tools like Canva and video software like Vyond, have made it so easy to design social media posts, videos and ads that anyone can do it.  The templates they provide take the pain out of needing design skills.  Combine these tools with Stock Media libraries and any organisation can produce ‘good enough’ content. 

But is it good enough?  If it doesn’t stand out; if it doesn’t persuade your buyers to act; then is it any good at all?

The traditional sales and marketing campaigning tasks of finding people to talk to, originating content to tell your message, etc. — in 2023, these things have all become so easy that anyone can do it.  in consequence, the value of me-too content has become vurtually nil.’

Getting in touch is the obvious answer to growing your business.

What do you ACTUALLY need?

We have somehow forgotten that the secret of getting the most from promoting your business comes from the ‘Obvious Adams’ muddled creative thinkers that think differently to most of us; applying their speckled imperfect lens to your business and working out the obvious truth of what will make it desirable.

As Bill Gates puts it – ‘The problem today is people don’t know how to want what we made.’  The job of the person (or company) you want to hire is to find a way to get your audience to want what you make.  This is more of a seduction (i.e., a willingness on the part of the customer to be seduced), rather than a clever trick of the hand that some marketers and lead generation businesses appear to suggest it is. 

The foundation of your success will happen much before the landing pages are designed and the campaigns are drawn out into a GANT roadmap.  It comes from the effort of thinking to drill down to the real value of your business and your customer needs, wants, attitudes, behaviours, anxieties, habits, etc. in a forensic way that means you absolutely know:

1. What business you are in

2. Your purpose and personality; the essence of your brand

3. Who your buyer is

4. What events in the life of your audience make them a prospect to buy what you sell.

5. The job you can help them to do better

6. Why yours is the best way to get the job done

7. What habits and anxieties might dissuade them from adapting their behaviours to buy your product or service.

8. What value the customer sees in your business and what you sell

9. The manner in which you place a magnifying glass on the area of value that you want your audience to see–because you know it will maximise your ability to persuade them to buy

10. The price you set for what you make

11. Etc.

Marketing is often looked upon as being ‘productive’ through the volume of creative designs, persuasive pros and quirky content it produces.  The real value of good marketing comes from sales opportunities that result from creative thinking, planning and orchestration steps that happen further up the line.  Put another way, it takes good soil to produce a healthy crop–looking at a pile of farmed wheat tells you little about the quality of the soil.

 

All the above looks systematic, but anybody that does this job knows how far that is from the truth.  In most cases, ‘the job’ is about observational learning, assimilating knowledge over a period, removing your ego from the room, sense-making, etc.–and answering the question, ‘What’s the obvious answer to the problem?’

What do you call that type of agency?

Good question.

Advertising, creative, marketing and brand agencies have all been struggling with that question.  

The likely truth is that you will find ‘Obvious Adams’ characters in agencies sponsoring all of these different titles.

What to call it?

Some agencies are describing themselves as Behavioural Science specialists, or Digital Agencies and that kind of thing, but none of these titles benefit from the simplicity that came from the label  ‘Advertising Agency’ in the heyday of advertising spend.  We’ve unfortunately lost that simplicity in the industry.

We tend to describe ourselves as a growth engineering agency because that’s essentially what our buyers are looking for… they want to grow their sales and their business.   That doesn’t mean that we don’t design brands, ads and campaigns, run social media schedules, write blogs, etc.  because all this legwork comes with the job.

Final thoughts

It’s not what you call it, it’s what it delivers.

Honestly, what’s in a name? 

The Obvious Adams characters of today are still around, and if you find a good one, they will help you to peel back the onion and get down to the essential truth of what makes your company special.

If you are going through a beauty parade of potential suppliers, I recommend you do three things:

1. Ask them how they approach the problem.

2. Consider what they are promising and whether you think it sounds like good sense / a realistic plan.

3. Speak to their customers, or at the very least check out their credentials.  Here are ours.

 

Get in touch to discuss your brand signature.