Unbound Growth Blog

Death to the Marketing Agency of the Past

Posted by Carole Mahoney

 11/29/13 9:00 AM

"We are not responsible or accountable for your sales."

I cringe whenever I hear a marketing agency or "professional" say this. I recently heard it from a prospect who was frustrated with their current marketing agency who said this to them when they were asked why the client wasn't seeing results. As in sales. In their minds, their responsibility ended when the email campaigns went out. They weren't responsible for what happened after they hit the send button. 


These types of 'marketing agencies' must die. Cease to exist. Permanently. They do more than a disservice to their clients, they give a bad rap to those of us who do hold ourselves accountable to not just sales, but business growth. 

Apparently I am not the only one who thinks so. The Fournaise Marketing Group, a global leader in Marketing Performance Measurement & Management (MPM), cited:

"73% of CEOs think Marketers lack business credibility and are not the business growth generators they should be: they are still too far from being able to demonstrate how the cross-channel marketing strategies and campaigns they deploy grow their organisations’ top line in terms of more customer demand, more sales, more prospects, more conversions or more market share."

This was identified through the Fournaise Marketing Group's 2011 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program in which it interviewed more than 600 large corporation and SMB CEOs and decision-makers in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia. That was 2 years ago, surely it has improved since then? Not so much. In a recent 2013 report, it was reported that 78% of the 1200 Large corporation & SMB CEOs and Management (C-Suite) decision-makers said:

"Ad & Media Agencies are not performance-driven enough and do not focus enough on helping to generate the (real and P&L-quantifiable) business results they expect their Marketing departments to deliver."

The problem is that these types of agencies are hard to spot for the average business owner. And when you try to compare one to the other, it is apples and oranges. And those who are trustworthy and hold themselves accountable to tangible results are in the minority. 

So how are business owners able to determine who the good guys are and who the ones to stay clear of are? 

6 ways to spot the marketing agency of the past:

  1. They talk a lot about brand, brand values, brand equity and other similar terms that business owners and executives have a hard time linking back to results that really matter- like revenue and sales.
  2. They focus so much on the latest marketing because they believe they represent the new marketing frontier. But those real marketing frontier men and women can demonstrate how these trends will help them generate more business for the company.
  3. When asked to increase Marketing ROI, they tend to do so through cost cutting measures like better economies of scale or price negotiations with their third-party partners and agencies. The marketing agency of the future would instead focus on growth and better lead generation. (Again, notice the trend of focusing on more revenue, more sales, more prospects, more buyers?)
  4. They are always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how many leads, sales, and new buyers the money will generate. See #1.
  5. They overhwhelm with marketing data that doesn't relate to or mean anything for the company’s P&L.
  6. They focus too much on the creative and not enough on the business science of marketing. Instead of seeking to understand the buying process of customers, they are looking for the next big idea.
Unfortunately, there are still more of these types of agencies out there than the ones who feel accountable to ROI and business growth. They see the internet and social media and the new marketing trends as just another way to advertise. 
Marketers sure can ruin a good thing fast. But all hope is not lost. 

6 criteria to spot the marketing agency of the future:

  1. They practice what they preach. They are active bloggers, on social media, you can find them through a search engine. 
  2. They talk about business goals and revenue needed to see ROI. And not just talk about it, but will actually work through those numbers with you.
  3. They have case studies and client testimonials of their work. In other words, they have done this before.
  4. They are willing to offer referrals to speak with past clients about their work.
  5. They are transparent about what work is done in house and what is outsourced. This means they know what they do best and have the connections to give you everything you need from experts who know what they do best.
  6. They keep up to date on the latest marketing trends and can teach you something you didn't know as it relates to your business and your customers. Should you be considering Pinterest or Twitter and why?
This is not a complete list of course, and things like their company culture, pricing, and communication with you throughout the process should also be considered.
Do you have a marketing agency nightmare to share? Or perhaps you have been lucky enough to work with a 21st century agency who gets it. Share your tale in the comments below.

Topics: marketing

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This blog is a home for the business growth lessons that we and our associates and clients have learned from the front lines.

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