10 Reasons to Hire An Agency. And what’s wrong (or right) with them.

A series of 10 posts in 10 days.

There are a zillion reasons to hire an agency.  And pretty much a zillion types of agency out there from which to choose.  Whether the agency calls itself a marketing communications company, an advertising agency, a consultancy, a PR firm, a branding firm, a branded entertainment company, an experiential marketing service, whatever…it’s not always easy to figure out what an “agency” is, or which type you need.  But it is, generally, good business to hire one of these types of companies to help move your brand/initiative/program/product/service forward in the marketplace, no matter what your size, what your goals or what your budget.

Figuring out which type of agency to engage is a tough task.  It largely depends on what YOU do, who your audience is, and a host of other factors.  If you’re a large company, it’s likely you have several types of agencies to handle specific tasks:  media, social, digital, etc.  But if you’re a small or midsize company (and let’s face it, 99% of you are,) it’s really hard to determine what kind of agency you should hire.  Because you probably need some PR.  And some social media help.  And some advertising.  And a bunch of other stuff.  So choosing one type over another is a challenge.

But once you’ve figured out which type of agency you need, a far more difficult question to ask is this: is there a good reason to hire one agency over another?  As gray areas go, this is pretty light, and fading fast.  So over the next 10 days, I’ll post 10 reasons typically cited for hiring an agency to perform marketing services on some level, and together, we’ll examine what they mean on a broader level and explore the good, the bad, and the “really?”

Reason #1:  “The agency has great, talented people.”

Many companies claim they hire an agency because the agency has great people working there.  Maybe a highly-awarded creative director.  Or a senior executive who’s written a bestseller or even a Hollywood screenplay. Or a former client-side manager who’s come over to the dark side to bring a particular expertise.  Or a celebrity CEO.  Or fantastic, motivated support staff in every department.

And while this is a very good reason to hire an agency, it’s also the most ambiguous.  If you walk into 10 ad agencies today (and I just use that as an example,) and start talking to various people in different departments, chances are you’ll find a cast of incredibly diverse, wildly interesting and extremely talented people at all of them.  Some may be brilliant fine artists.  Some may write gorgeous poetry.  Some may play Brazilian jazz in the evenings.  Some may have insightful business acumen that makes you think in ways you’ve never thought before.  Some may be gifted orators, and others, witty humorists, talented coders or concerned environmentalists.

That’s because ad agencies typically hire people with diverse backgrounds who have either an artistic or functional business talent that can be exploited (in a good way.) It’s almost a redundancy to say that an agency (marketing, advertising or otherwise) has talented people. After all, that’s why you seek their services.  Hiring an agency to execute your marketing because they have talented people is akin to saying you’ve hired a band for your wedding because they sound good.  It’s the baseline. It’s the expectation.

Now, can there be a serviceable agency that doesn’t have “great” or “talented” people?  I suppose so.  Drawing on the wedding band reference, I’ve met plenty of musicians who are neither great nor exceptionally talented, but can still play serviceably and get people on the dance floor.

But wouldn’t you rather have something exceptional?  On some level?  Wouldn’t it be great to have that exceptional talent working on behalf of your brand, and trying to stimulate demand for your services?  I should think so.

Tomorrow:  Reason #2:  “The Agency Has Experience in My Vertical”

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