If there are any life lessons learned from Jim Carrey’s 2008 comedy Yes Man (aside from Red Bull not being a substitute for sleep) they would be surrounding the pitfalls of being blindly agreeable. On one hand; saying “yes” can open up your world to new opportunities, eliminate conflict, and oftentimes feel easier. On the other hand, simply saying “yes” to everything can narrow your view, eliminate the benefits of compromise, and ultimately take you along for a ride without giving any real input.
The same principle applies to a working relationship with your ad agency. An agency that simply says “yes” to your requests may get the work done, but the work may not be successful. That lack of participation can ultimately hurt your bottom line, and there are multiple reasons why you should look for an agency that just might challenge you from time to time.
An ad agency that says “no” becomes your partner.
Forming a “vendor” relationship instead of a true partnership with your ad agency is the first step down an unproductive path. The term “vendor” implies that the agency is simply there to execute tasks. Instead of that, you should hire an agency that aims to be much more. We feel it’s imperative to view all of our clients as partners. Vendors simply execute tasks, while we seek to take an active seat at the table. This ensures that we are just as invested in, and accountable for, client goals as we are our own, instead of simply executing tasks without providing our expertise and input. After all, our success as an agency is directly reflected in the successes of our clients.
They help challenge you to do better.
Often agencies will be brought in when an organization needs help with a specific task beyond their internal team’s capacity. While agencies like ours serve as an extension of your team to pick up this extra workload, we should also serve as an outside set of eyes to re-evaluate the strategic assumptions underlying the work. As marketers, we all know that it’s easy to get too close to a project in which you are deeply invested. You may think your audience responds to one approach, while through agency collaboration and primary research—like focus group testing—you may learn of a totally untapped opportunity. By aiming to simply hire an agency that will follow the status quo, you are not getting the most of your investment.
Diversity of thought leads to stronger collaboration.
Sometimes you will have the right approach off the bat. Other times your ad agency might. Even more times, the best approach will lie somewhere in the middle. By working through the strategic process with an agency not afraid to push for the best approach, based on their experience, you are expanding the potential of your campaigns. In an advertising climate where A/B testing is crucial to campaign success, having the best A and B to test is a key part of the process. Having an agency partner that simply executes approaches without critical thinking deprives you of the benefits that come from challenging perceptions.
They make the most of your dollar.
In 2018, digital ad spending in the US reached $83 billion nationwide. That’s a lot of market competition and a lot of money being spent on digital ad placements every day. And that’s just one of the many media outlets! With such competitive investments and so much noise, having the best media strategy is a necessity.
If your brand is running a campaign that does not resonate with your audience, is placed on the wrong networks, or isn’t targeted properly, your bottom line will take the hit. Reach may fall, conversions will cost more, or you may even be talking to the wrong people altogether. The best form of optimization comes from active conversations and strategy refinement between partners. Simply passing off ads to a vendor for placement cuts that collaborative element entirely out of the process, leaving a potential plethora of possibilities on the table.
A great agency partner is going to be one that treats your goals as their own and isn’t afraid to speak their mind in the interest of success. A vendor who simply agrees with everything you say as the baseline of the relationship is not doing you any favors in pushing for the best possible approach at all times. Differing views are a great part of that dynamic, causing you to look at your marketing from many different angles to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Ryan is an Account Executive at RDW Group. Living his career on the digital frontier since ‘poking’ was social currency, he is ever on the pulse of the integrated mindset. Outside the office he can be found running silly distances to the beats of electronic music, capturing life through a camera lens, and soaking in the hop cologne at RI’s bountiful local breweries.