" title="title" type="application/rss+xml" />


Why some agency marketing doesn't help clients

Unless you are Sir Martin Sorrell himself, I’m sorry to say that you are probably not the world’s leading marketing agency.

Imagine you receive a beautifully gift-wrapped box. You tear off the paper to reveal a Tiffany box (your excitement is building now) only to open it and find a voucher for H. Samuel.

The fantastic build-up without the anticipated result would leave you pretty flat and maybe a bit hacked off that you had been misled. The giver of your gift will have shot themselves in the foot pretty badly. 

Yet this is the approach that I often see from agencies when they are marketing themselves to clients.

I’ve seen ‘one of the UK’s leading agencies’ or even ‘the leading agency’ once on agency websites or in their credentials too many times. On further investigation, these companies often turn out to be very small agencies, with small turnover and not working for any major brands.

For agencies (whose job it is to help clients to position themselves) to use an approach which is tired and which isn’t true either isn’t good. It leaves me pretty cold and it must leave clients confused and cold too.

Another trend I’ve noticed in agency blurb is to describe the senior people in the company as visionaries. You can also spot quite a few twitter and linked-in descriptions where the person describes themselves as a thought leader or even a guru. Don’t they realise that nobody likes a smartarse?

Of course there are though-leaders, visionaries and gurus but they earn these titles by gaining the respect of others, not by self-appointing. 

Competition for client business is fierce, so you do need to be able to differentiate your agency in a more imaginative way. It’s really hard for clients to discern amongst agencies, so help them out.

Making sure that you are participating in standard industry measures and quality marks is a great way of doing it. And if you have excelled in any of these then by all means shout it from the rooftops, but do make sure that you cite the source.

Our job at RAR is to help clients to find the best agency for their brief. We research and compare agencies, teasing out which ones will do the best job for different sizes and varying levels of brand-fame. Never has a client asked us to find the leading UK agency. Their needs and wants are more complex and what they really want help with is finding the best agency for them and what they are trying to achieve.

So agencies should avoid making overblown claims and instead get across something interesting, meaningful and honest.

Diane Young is running a workshop at the forthcoming Vision conference.

The RAR Top 100 Agencies will be published in The Drum on 23 November