Business | Digital Marketing
Working With a Creative Agency: 7 Common Myths
There’s no question: digital marketing can make for confusing territory. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there, and all sorts of dubious “strategies” for helping businesses gain traction online.
In the same way, we’ve found that many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are often unsure of what’s involved in working with a creative agency to address their digital marketing needs. Over time, we’ve seen these 7 myths crop up amongst clients again and again. That’s why we decided to put together this blog post. Below, we’ll dispel some of these common misconceptions about how creative agencies work, what it takes to connect with one, and what to look for in a digital marketing agency.
Myth #1: A Request for Proposal (RFP) is the Best Way to Find an Agency
False. In the old days of marketing, an RFP may have been the most sensible way to sort through a number of competing firms and choose the best fit for your company. There’s no question, though: those days are gone.
If your organization is relatively new to digital marketing, it’s unlikely that you know exactly what your needs are. You may have some idea of what you’re looking for, sure -- but chances are slim that you’re 100% clear on exactly what would work best for your business. By reaching out to multiple agencies, having a number of conversations, and explaining your situation in detail, you’ll gradually come to a clearer understanding of exactly what services you need.
Without having a conversation to determine the specific needs of your business, it’s difficult for a digital marketing agency to submit an accurate, useful proposal. What you’ll likely end up with instead is a stack of cookie-cutter submissions, none of which directly address the solutions your business is looking for. Having a direct conversation with an account manager at a creative agency is a much more effective way to get started.
Myth #2: It’s All About Metrics and Measurable ROI, All the Time
False. There are all sorts of different ways to measure marketing success. The goals of a particular campaign will determine how you choose to evaluate how effective it is (or isn’t). But no matter what area of digital marketing you’re talking about, you’ll almost always need to look to both quantitative and qualitative data as key performance indicators (KPIs).
What does this mean? At the end of the day, hard numbers and metrics don’t always tell the entire story. Don’t get us wrong here: metrics are important. You should be tracking organic vs. paid search traffic, conversion rate, email open rates, and as many other quantitative KPIs as possible. But, this doesn’t negate the fact that brand perception, brand awareness, and earned assets (such as high profile social media shares and news stories) can have a major impact on your organization’s success. The bottom line: focus on hard metrics, but don’t forget the soft ones.
Myth #3: Only Big Marketing Agencies Can Deliver Results.
False. As an SMB, the idea of signing on with a huge (and hugely successful) agency can be enticing. Just look at their list of clients! They’ve worked with some huge brands. That means that they’re a great fit for you, right?
Not necessarily. It’s not the size of the agency that matters: what counts is how well that agency fits with your company’s needs. Remember that a creative agency with 100 employees won’t automatically deliver more in the way of results than a digital marketing firm with 4 people on staff. After all, that huge agency is likely only going to assign a handful of employees to your account.
In fact, the opposite is often true. Smaller agencies are frequently better able to adapt to the shifting needs of your company, and they can provide you with a level of attention that you’ll rarely get from a bigger firm. In the same way that your industry shifts over time, the world of digital marketing can change in the blink of an eye. The more agile a company is, the better it will be able to keep up with current trends.
Myth #4: An Agency Can’t Keep Up With My Needs
False. Some businesses assume that they need an in-house marketing team if they want their digital presence to keep pace with industry changes. However, this simply isn’t true. These days, creative agencies are accustomed to adapting to changes in their clients’ businesses, and you can expect whichever agency you’re working with to keep up with your needs from month to month.
Remember: a good agency will do their homework. They’ll come to understand your industry nearly as well as you do. And unlike an in-house marketer, they can bring their experience in other niches and industries to bear on the needs of your business. Here at DuBose, we work with companies in all sorts of verticals, including manufacturing, higher education, healthcare, and the nonprofit sector. We pride ourselves on becoming intimately familiar with the needs of each of our clients, and on understanding what motivates their customers.
Myth #5: The Only Good Creative Agencies Are In L.A., New York, and Chicago
False. Of all the misconceptions covered here, this might be the most common one. The reality is that it’s just flat-out wrong. Sure, there are some amazing agencies in places like New York and L.A. But those agencies can also be outrageously expensive.
There are incredibly talented individuals scattered all around the country (and, for that matter, around the globe). Particularly if your business isn’t located in one of these densely populated urban environments, connecting with an agency in a small city -- or even a rural area -- can make for a better match between your company culture and theirs. Plus, you’ll often have the added bonus of more affordable rates.
Myth #6: You Need to Spend a Lot Up Front
False. A traditional advertising campaign involving TV ads, radio spots, and billboards can be incredibly expensive. And, what’s worse, most of that money has to be spent upfront, all at once. Fortunately, though, that’s not how digital marketing works.
With the right digital marketing strategy, it’s possible to spread your investment out over the course of a month, a quarter, or a year. Using a retainer-based fee schedule, you can sign on with a creative agency and take small, manageable, affordable steps forward. Rather than having to dump your entire marketing budget in a huge initial ad spend, you can see what works and reallocate your assets later on. Don’t let anyone talk you into spending your entire budget upfront if you’re not comfortable doing so.
Myth #7: Working With An Agency Will Be Tough
False. If you’re convinced that working with an agency is going to be a logistical nightmare, trust us: it doesn’t have to be that way. Of course, there are indeed some creative agencies out there that do a poor job of managing client communication. But, we think the exception proves the rule.
The right agency will adapt its communication style and frequency to the needs of your company. If you want to set up a weekly call, they should be open to that. If you prefer to communicate via a task management system, a good agency will make that work. If you’re open and upfront about what your expectations are, things are much more likely to go smoothly.
Choose the Right Creative Agency
We hope we’ve managed to dispel some of the most common myths surrounding creative agencies. If you do your homework, it’s completely possible to find the right agency to fit the needs of your business. Remember: you deserve the best! If you stick to your fundamental goals and establish clear and open communication, you’ll be well on your way to digital marketing success.