how hiring an ad agencyREALITY CHECK: not all companies in the marketing & advertising industry are designed to bring you MORE CUSTOMERS.

Believing that everyone in this industry wants to (or KNOWS HOW to) bring you more customers and more revenue is one of the biggest misconceptions of how the industry really works. Simply put… generating customers is NOT the focus of MOST of the companies in the marketing & advertising space.

Navigating the marketing & advertising industry is a huge challenge facing entrepreneurs. (Hell, sometimes it’s a huge challenge for those of us IN the industry.) But, this topic burns me up a little bit because, all too often I see awesome entrepreneurs get abused! (And that sucks because it gives EVERYONE bad name.)

Now it’s really hard (okay, impossible) to give 1-size-fits-all advice on “how to buy” or “why to buy” but what I can do is help entrepreneurs understand the important distinction between the 4 different types of companies in the marketing & advertising industry and what they DO and what they DON’T DO.

There are 4 Different Types

I think it’s important to note that one isn’t right and one isn’t wrong. Each type is vastly different and designed to produce a VERY DIFFERENT result.

A quick way to get lead down the wrong path - is to hire a company expecting them to deliver an outcome that they’re just not designed to provide. (This sounds obvious… but it literally happens everyday.)

The solution is to understand which type of company is best suited to help you based on your specific goals.

If you’ve ever been unhappy with or felt ripped off by a marketing company – chances are, it’s because you got this part wrong. But it’s okay… it’s NOT YOUR FAULT… chances are, no one has shared this with you before and most sales people just aren’t righteous enough to tell you it’s not a good fit when you’re dangling your good money over their head. But first… a little tough love for you entreps…

Quit Tire Kicking

Just stop it!

Stop shopping your business around looking for validation.

Professionals in this industry have 1 job… to SELL YOU something. (No, they are not your friend.) They’re not here to give you “out of the box ideas” and they’re not here to validate your business.

In order to put yourself back in the driver seat in the client / agency relationship you need to change the basis of your conversation with these people. You need to be talking to them about WHAT YOU WANT TO HAPPEN to you next. NOT “what can you do for me”. If you ask them “what can you do for me?” trust me – they’ll always come up with something sexy-sounding enough to get your money.

So just stop it. Set your own goals and get clear about what you need to happen next. Then when you need help – find a pro who’s core focus is delivering that.

1) Coach / Consultant

This category is pretty easy to understand.

Coaches or consultants sell words or advice – they basically tell you what to do and how to do it!  (And we all need that from time to time!)

They typically charge you a flat-rate or an hourly rate.

A consultant has little accountability over your results and are NOT RESPONSIBLE for making you money.

When you’re not happy with the results (which always has more to do with YOU than them), you’ll stop working with them.  The high turn-over means most coaches and consultant charge high fees because they have to “get while the gettin’ is good”. A great marketing consultant will make you an outcome based offer with a specific plan / path to achieving that outcome together and will have a strong idea of how much time it’ll take.

2) Creative Services Agency

This is by-far the most common type of company in the marketing / advertising industry.  Creative services companies are likely the ones you’ve hired (and fired) many, many times in the past.

These types of companies sell you THINGS or make STUFF for you.  Examples are:  web designers,  graphic designers,  writers,  videographers.  Anyone who is going to deliver a piece of collateral is a creative services agency.

Like consultants, they typically charge you a flat-rate (per-project rate) or an hourly rate.

These companies have NO ROI accountability because it’s just their job to make what you want.

READ MY LIPS: these companies are NOT RESPONSIBLE for making you make money.

While you will need to make awesome things to put in-front of your leads in order to get them to know you, like you and trust you… this is just 1 little part of a marketing strategy and without a plan to systematically put that stuff in-front of the right people… the stuff by itself will just never make you money.  Ever. (Seriously.)

A great creative services company will check to see if you have a strategy and a budget to get new people to SEE your new collateral. (Because they know, that no matter how much you spend on collateral it just don’t work in a vacuum. There is NO “build it and they will come”.)

3) Advertising Agency

Ad agencies get you introductions to new people.

It’s their job to put your message (all your fancy “stuff”) in the right place at the right time.

Ad agencies make money based on the amount of money you SPEND.

Ad agencies provide you access to things like:  radio, newspaper or television ads; Facebook Ads; AdWords; billboard / signage space, etc…

They have a pretty high degree of ROI accountability because they know you’re not going to keep SPENDING MONEY if you’re not MAKING ANY!

A great ad agency will want YOU to prove that you’ll make money when traffic shows up and will ask you questions to make sure you can handle the traffic they’re going to deliver.

4) Sales Agency

Technically, these are called “Marketing Agencies” but that’s the WORST NAME EVER so I’ve decided not to use that term anymore.  (It’s the worst name ever because so many types of companies have started adding “marketing agency” to their names to the point where it’s become confusing.)

Sales agencies make money based on the amount of money you MAKE. Sales agencies build channels (or “funnels”) to CAPTURE LEADS and CONVERT CUSTOMERS.  In other words… when the traffic shows up, sales agencies make sure the RIGHT THINGS happen to those people!

These companies are also sometimes called “Managing Agencies” because they can hire, direct and measure the other 3 types of marketing / advertising companies when you need them.

A great sales agency will smooth out your sales cycle and make the number of new customers you gain each day, week or month predictable and systematic.  (Because they don’t want the amount of money they earn from you to change – unless it’s goin’ up!)

Which One is Good at What?

Any marketing strategy has 4 basic parts, and – SURPRISE, SURPRISE – different companies are good at helping you with each!

  1. AUDIENCE:    WHO you need to be in-front of
    hire:  marketing consultant
  2. MEDIA:   HOW you will get in-front of them
    hire:  ad agency
  3. MESSAGE:   WHAT you’ll put in-front of them
    hire:  creative agency
  4. CONVERSION:  HOW you will get them to take action, WHAT will measure it
    hire: sales agency

I also made you this sweet chart… (you can click it to make it bigger) Conrad Flynn Agency Types Chart


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