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Do You Really Need an Ad Agency?

When I was “client side,” I often asked myself:

“Do I really need an ad agency?

“Are they worth the money?”

“Does an agency make a difference?”

As a result, I tried different things over the years: strengthening in-house teams, hiring select freelancers, working with an agency to develop templates—the list goes on. I had some wins, and a few sleepless nights over some things that didn’t work as well. Overall, here’s what I learned.

If you have a very basic, predictable flow of marketing materials (i.e. think sales sheets, technical brochures, business cards, edits to a website) then you can probably find a way to handle these in-house.  However, if you want to position, brand and market your company for long term, profitable growth, I recommend you strongly consider an agency. Here are 6 reasons why.

1.       An agency helps you get your head out of the sand.  It’s easy to be too close to your business. Too often the “corporate way” becomes the “the way” with no consideration for alternatives. I have been there. Trust me, there’s always a better way to market something.  An outside perspective can be a jolt to awaken your marketing senses and get you on track.  It can force you to face your blind spots and open your mind to looking at things in fresh, new ways.

2.       An agency helps you stay relevant.  As you probably know, in today’s multi-channel, fast moving marketing environment, it’s important to be differentiated, but it’s really, really important to be relevant. An agency can help make sure your marketing is relevant to your target and connects with them in terms of look, feel, tone, manner, messaging and channels used. This relevance comes from knowing the target, being engaged in culture and having the benefit of having worked on many brands and in many categories.

3.       An agency gives you access to creative minds.  Small to mid-sized agencies typically have several strong creative thinkers. These talented individuals are unique in the way they think, make connections and experience the world. They are a different breed—I’ve never met one that worked in a traditional “marketing department” and frankly I don’t think they could.  They are insanely restless, curious, and cynical of marketing—which is a good thing. Embrace the gifts of their insight and creativity—your marketing will be better for it.

4.       An agency helps you spot the shiny penny. Often there’s an annual marketing plan that is approximately the same year over year. How many fall customer acquisition campaigns can one marketing director take? For reasons that I have yet to comprehend, agencies are eternally optimistic that they can spot the shiny penny and turn what seems basic and ho-hum into something interesting, engaging and relevant. Their skill set includes a deep understanding of strategy and their insights are often what make the difference between good results and great results.  And they do it—repeatedly!

5.       An agency helps expand your team. An agency can help widen and deepen the pool of talent at your disposal without the overhead and liabilities. It’s impossible to know everything and keep up with all the change and most agencies have depth in a few areas that you don’t need in-house on a full-time basis (think brand refresh, creative concepts, creative direction). Decide what you want your in-house team to excel at, and use your agency for reinforcements or missing expertise. Plus, agencies have a lot of contacts, resources and freelancers at their fingertips. Their rolodex is gold.

6.       An agency wants you to win.  An agency wants you to win—the good ones will move heaven and earth to help you. Again, the people that work in agencies tend to be different—they are born to serve, challenge the status quo, dream, think bigger and get great marks. They want an A. When you win, they win. Doesn’t that sound like a player worth having on your team?

I could go on—there are more reasons, but these are some of the key ones to keep in mind. Investing in the right agency partner is going to help you achieve better results, make more money and achieve or exceed your goals.  Plus, you’ll sleep better knowing you’ve got some great people in the trenches with you.

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