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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

HOW TO SELECT AN ADVERTISING AGENCY

HOW TO SELECT AN ADVERTISING AGENCY

I was looking for something to write on and as I am a salesman I realized that I absolutely “HATE & DETEST” one core vertical in the business world and that is “Advertising”.  My suggestion is to sack the lot of them and warn your security guards not to let them back in.  Also put in your spam filters to delete these two words “Advertising & Agency” if they are anywhere in the body or subject of any e-mail that touches the domain.  Finally if I could delete the day that some academic decided to include them in a college curriculum I would gladly do so that I may change history and rewrite it.  Kindly bear this in mind I am not referring to any business that is forced to inherit it’s agency due to regional or global restraints.

My reasons are as follows from what I have seen over 25 years as a salesman…  Advertising Agencies always come up with extremely expensive plagiarized, preconceived notions every month on how they can better business with cliché’s such as “brand appreciation” and “packaging it better”…  They always have been a creatively expensive solution to executing that one “Big idea” plagiarized off the web and TV whilst totally ignoring the core attributes of the business.  Bottom line at the end of the day a salesman like me has to convince himself that he can deliver the numbers to keep the lights and fans running whilst these guys keep adding to the COGS like mad.

Ok now realize this.  We are living in Pakistan and our International Brands are heavily localized to suit the Pakistani hypocritical pallet which will never accept any form of change that has NOT originated from the west or not endorsed by the Indian Silver screen.  We are slaves to foreign brand names and as of late that is why the knock off capital of the world Thailand is blossoming because of our business.  Also with the rising inflation and instability in the exchange rate any campaign is like a rouge nuclear warhead that today can make or break a Public listed company’s yearend closing!  However, this post is from a sales perspective how one should select an Advertising Agency and not to highlight even more the issues we are aware of already yet choose to ignore.  There are three main elements.

  1. MEDIA BUYING – To protect yourself as a business when selecting your agency ensure it is not a 360 solution where your releases are in the same hands that are responsible for the creativity.  Go to a buying house directly and get a better deal and save money directly from the source… More value in a collectively shared media buyout deal and a lot of extra candies. Bottom line… you do not need someone who is a GP to remove a brain tumor so ensure you give your business to a specialist and keep the core focus of the job as a primary.
Should you decide to give your media in the hands of an agency check its APNS ratings and analyze its payment, credit & banking history to the end recipients?  As a customer you have the rights to ask such questions after all you will be getting into a professional marriage and in every marriage background checks are thoroughly done.


  1. CREATIVE AGENCYTwo decades ago ever since these two words “entrepreneurship” & “democracy” became a war cry of the educated lot all off a sudden started spinoffs on assumed good will from many old legendary agencies and went on a personal crusade to do the job better.  These pirates broke people from the same institution where they trained and swore allegiance to with greed being extremely poorly funded and sadly destroyed the sanctity of the goodwill that the industry held. Out of the few hundred spinoffs only two to three agencies have withstood the test of inflation & time and still exist today.  Now that you understand the history let’s get to what to look for.
a.       Your creative agency MUST at all times need you as their first choice rather than your business want them as an only choice where your management is chasing them down for deliverable and they are only proactive when it comes to calling your finance department.
b.      The investors must have an active personal involvement in the management of the creative agency and must respect time at all costs as well.
c.       Whilst they creative agencies cannot predict the economic future they must have it in their SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) with you that if they choose to predict your brands future and you choose to accept spending or investing in their idea then a certain percentage or a number must be involved with every campaign where they always guarantee a return on your investment.
d.      Also when selecting a creative agency a key element is to ensure that the agency does not have a huge attrition rate as far as its own Human Resource goes.  Just imagine running a campaign conceived by one creative head, amended by another and tweaked by the third during a complete roll out over the second business quarter.
e.      Keeping the element of focus in mind to the job description as well as allowing a creative agency to earn negotiate where you as the business that are entrusting your company’s future to them will ask them to invest their ability to earn with you by
i.         taking a nominal retainer fee along with a fat royalty cheque for the idea that you will buy and also add a cherry to the pie with a bonus from the percentages in revenue that you will earn from the sales generated from your investment
ii.                   taking a 65% less than market rate standard retainer with yet again a percentage in revenue that you will earn from the sales generated from their campaigns
f.        Vendors and their payments are a big grey area when it comes to payments and businesses being held at gunpoint when “immediate” funds are required for Editing, BTL activations, Ooh campaigns or any other nonsensical excuse that the agency can find to flex its muscles.  Nobody likes any form of insecurity so why should you and then again pay for it not only in hard earned cash but also with the loss of respect because you are working to support your business and the agency is actually a solution and should never add to the problems.  In any relationship professional or personal if there are any discrepancies regarding money or respect then that relationship needs to be addressed at the source and often a divorce is the wisest choice to protect one’s self and the professional family.
So in short it is advised that since the agency has the ability to stay focused a business should also hunt down alternatives to curb on COGS and have a directory of multiple vendors as in independent production houses, animation studios & BTL activation companies and social media popups.  Since your finance department takes at least 5 quotes to get the best deal for your computer hardware & physical assets then you should apply the same law to these advertising value added services.  
g.       Agency contract should be for a maximum of 180 days or two business quarters so that as the economy changes or the business trends change you have the right to go for a new position change for your business and can always get fresh ideas and concepts.  This will keep your agency on its toes to work for the cheque and your contract with your agency must state penalties for not only you on defaulting on credit terms but dire financial consequences that will be borne by the agency in the case your business or its good will is affected due to their mistakes. If a woman can get 20 million US dollars because a cup of coffee singed her legs from Mc. Donald’s then it is only fair if you ask someone to guarantee their promise of quality service with a financial penalty should they defalt.

  1. MERIT BASED APPOINTMENT – I have been a salesman selling a vast diverse range of services and products for 25 years and in that time only three people who knew me or my family gave me business and actually did not take me for granted when it came time to pay me.  The rest were all professionals who paid me on time.  Imagine you import a certain service or product at a certain dollar rate of 96 rupees what is the point of getting your cheque after 18 months when the dollar is at 120 rupees?  Most people who do business with you will take you for granted and always play a personal card to get something better for them thus removing the transparency element in any agreement so when you choose an agency ensure that if you hire the agency through a reference that the entity that referred the agency is also financially liable for its misdemeanors.  In our country people will say what they have to get the deal they want to and then leave you hanging like a teenage boy at the mall waiting for the promised Cinderella.  If you can remove any and all forms of personal interaction with your agency and strictly forbid non official interactions between your employees and your vendors.  Would you go to have coffee at 11pm to butlers with your Maasi?  After all she is also a service provider!


Anyone who has read this post from the marketing & advertising world will absolutely detest me for bringing these key elements to light! The reason is because I have asked you to focus on two elements with your agency that any relationship is based upon.  1. Mutual Respect & 2. Honesty, sadly no relationship can exist because we cannot have one without the other.  Should you follow this there will always be transparency within your Marketing Department!  A few people might even resign, but I hope not!  

However if there is transparency where it begins I will be able to deliver the numbers much more easily from a sales perspective!

1 comment:

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