How to Know When You Need an Advertising Agency

It’s a question every industrial company, both large and small, faces eventually: do you need to hire an advertising agency? Or if your company used an agency in the past, and the relationship ended, for whatever reason, could it be time to revisit that decision?

A good agency can bring a lot to the table: creativity, fresh ideas, expertise in channels, production power, and intimate knowledge of your markets and target customers. On the other hand, your marketing machine might be producing just fine on its own. Or perhaps you’re not sure if an agency is a good fit for your situation. Or you’re reluctant to make the investment in an agency.

We’ll tackle these questions in a two-part series. This first post will help you determine if you need to work with an advertising agency. In the next article, we’ll offer advice on how to choose the right agency for your needs.

If any of the following scenarios describe your current situation, it might be time to consider searching for the help of an agency.

Internal disagreement. For a variety of reasons—from personal feelings to organizational politics to differing skill sets—you might be dealing with multiple internal points of view on how to position, message and market your company, brand and products. In any company where smart people work, it’s not an uncommon situation that there are differences of opinion.

How an agency can help: An agency offers an external point of view, which can often serve as a fresh breath of air that helps unify your marketing vision and goals. An agency is also accustomed to synthesizing multiple opinions and accommodating the needs of a variety of stakeholders.

A tough marketing challenge. You’ve been wrestling with a marketing challenge for far too long and still haven’t won, such as: Your key marketing messages aren’t resonating. You’re having trouble building brand awareness. Your target audience isn’t engaged. Channels that once delivered have dried up.

How an agency can help: An agency will offer fresh ideas to solve your specific problem. You don’t have to hire an agency to be “your agency of record” and handle all of your marketing. Many good agencies will take on a specific marketing challenge or project work. You’ve probably been spending too much time on one thing anyway.

New channels to master. Almost all industrial marketers continue to shift a greater percentage of their marketing budget out of traditional channels and into digital marketing. That’s a smart move, because digital is where technical professionals are. But there are many choices, digital-wise: websites, online events, banner ad networks, search ads, social media, online catalogs, e-newsletters and more.

How an agency can help: Agencies tend to stay up up-to-date on what marketing channels deliver the best results for different types of businesses. A good agency will have expertise in the digital world.

Major rebranding. There’s a lot of work to do, not to mention risk and uncertainty to bear, in launching a major rebranding of products or your company. Everything has to come together and fit together: look and feel, messaging, marketing strategy. Can you or your team do it all?

How an agency can help: More than just serving as a fountain of creative ideas, an agency can help make sure all of your efforts add up to a unified whole. They will have a long and deep checklist of everything that needs to be done for rebranding, from high level decisions to the smallest, most detailed task. And an agency will know how long things take to get done.

Exploring new markets. Not all markets and industries are the same. Marketing that works in one may not work in another, so you can’t necessarily do things the same old way when you’re trying to break into a new market and you may not have the time or budget to learn as you go.

How an agency can help: Agencies can offer expertise in a variety of markets. They know through experience what channels and tactics might work in a market you aren’t that familiar with.

Lacking ideas. Your marketing has gone dry and stale: you know it, your boss knows it and your customers know it. Same old programs, same familiar message, same middling results. But you’re stuck because you don’t have any new ideas or you’re just not feeling the creativity muse.

How an agency can help: If you’re in need of innovative ideas and creativity, you’ll find them in an advertising agency. And an agency isn’t afraid to offer up radical ideas that would never have been generated within the walls of your company.

Gap to fill. You just don’t have enough people, resources and ideas to get all the work done. Maybe you’re launching a new product or merging two companies or missing a badly needed skill set on your marketing team.

How an agency can help: Many agencies have a surprisingly broad range of expertise in all things B2B marketing related: from identifying viable channels and delivering creative, to producing content, conducting research, growing social media, and building websites, managing programs, buying media and more. If you need it, an agency can probably do it.

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Have you considered hiring an advertising agency? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

1 Comment

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  1. Tim Daro
    28. Mar, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Thanks for the PR!
    We’re a strictly industrial (not even b2b, we’re i2i), full-service ad/PR agency that provides all the services and market knowledge you cite above.
    Interestingly, the majority of our recent client scores were guys who tried doing it themselves but saw the light and returned to an agency.
    A few additions to your value prop…
    Only get paid when we work
    Bring a 38-year track record of success in the industrial market (in our case)
    Have encountered EVERY marketing scenario any industrial can name
    Represent a dozen acknowledged market leaders (in our case), so ask for references
    As our mantra goes, quoting the late, great Dizzy Dean, if you can do what you say, it ain’t braggin’. We can and it ain’t. (And I’m a copywriter, so grammar intentional!)

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