What to Expect from your Advertising Agency
A Commentary and Checklist
There are good reasons why major, successful companies like McDonalds’,
IBM, and PepsiCo invest so much into advertising and promotion. It works!
Advertising is a very essential way to communicate “why” others should do business with you.
For prospective customers to desire to buy from you, they must first have confidence in your company and your products.
Companies must advertise their brands and their products in order to better sell their products. They don’t sell in order to be able to advertise. The more you advertise, the more you will sell. If this were not the case, no company would advertise. Given the cost of advertising and communications investments required, however, it is very important to invest wisely…especially in today’s business environment.
There are many ways to advertise. Companies advertise themselves through their brand image,
their messages, their promotional materials, their industry presence (e.g., trade shows), their promotional materials, sales presentations, participation in their industry (e.g., trade associations),
trade journal advertising, electronic ads, press releases and articles.
Good advertising helps, bad advertising is harmful. Good advertising communicates a positive and compelling message and brand identity for your products and company that bolsters your sales message. Bad advertising, on the other hand, establishes negative impediments to sales that must
be overcome before your representatives can begin selling.
So, make sure that you do it right. Large and successful food companies – such as Kellogg’s,
General Mills, PepsiCo - prefer to focus on doing what they do best: making and selling their products. They rely upon specialized outside agencies to do what the agencies do best – i.e., develop and manage advertising and communications programs. This applies to business-to-business (B2B) advertising, as well. When selecting an agency, it is critically important to choose an agency that will build your company’s positive image.
Working with Agencies can be (but does not have to be) very expensive. Some give good value
for the money, many don’t. A poor advertising campaign isn’t just money wasted, it can also do lasting damage. So, choose wisely.
Advertising agencies’ costs and capabilities cover a very wide spectrum. Given the scale and importance of the investments involved, it is best to be very careful in selecting the agency that best meets your needs.
The following is a checklist of 10 questions that you can use as guidelines
when evaluating your prospective marketing agency’s services.
1. Does your agency understand your business?
In order to communicate your benefits, an agency must be able to intimately understand your
company, product attributes, benefits and customer needs before they can craft a compelling
message that resonates with a technical buyer.
2. Can they help you define your objectives?
An advertising and promotions campaign can have many objectives: it may be to develop brand recognition, it may be to introduce a new product, or it may be to establish your company’s bona
fides as a solution provider. Ask your prospective agency how they would work with you to integrate objectives and expectations into a compelling message.
3. Will they research your competition?
There is nothing more embarrassing than to come out with a brand new logo, brochures, exhibitor
booth or advertising campaign that looks just like those…of your competitors. Your advertising look
and message should clearly differentiate you from your competitors, not blur the differences. Make
sure that your agency does its homework.
4. How well can they integrate your marketing venues?
Advertising is far more than just pretty pictures. In the U.S., it’s the message that counts. A comprehensive marketing program must forge a cohesive message across multiple marketing
venues, such as advertising, promotional materials, direct marketing, public relations, trade show exhibits and sales. Your agency should be able to function as a consultant to help you identify
new and innovative venues through which to effectively communicate your message.
5. Creative does not equate to “effective”.
Ad and brochure design constitute only a small part of any food ingredient advertising and communications program, but it is an important part. Look at your prospective agency’s portfolio
and how they look within the actual magazines. Do their ad designs and messages “pop”?
6. How well do they leverage relationships?
How well does your prospective agency know and understand your industry’s trade publishing
and trade show community. Personal relationships are critical when it comes time to negotiate ad prices, secure “freebie” ads or editorial mentions for your company and products, place press
releases, or receive tips on industry trends. Good relationships translate into good publicity.
7. Select venues and negotiate the optimum prices?
How does the agency select advertising venues and negotiate ad prices? Can they analyze a BPA (Business Publishers Association) audit to quantify and prioritize the markets you need to reach?
Can they then negotiate a competitive and effective price? Who gets the cost savings?
8. Ad placement
If you are selling high-value flavors, ad placement near analytical equipment articles is money
wasted. Make sure that your agency understand how and where to place ads for maximum effect…
and how to follow-up and ensure that you get actually get that placement that secures maximum exposure for your valuable advertising dollar.
9. How do they charge for services?
Advertising agencies’ rates are all over the map. How much they charge may be determined by
actual work done or by what the market (i.e., your company) will bear. To get full and proper value
from your agency, ask for a full explanation on how they determine their fees and rates. Do they
provide services as “piece work” or do they demand a 1-year or 2-year contract and, if so, how can
you nullify the contract if they fail to perform to your full satisfaction?
10.Creative, innovative, cost-effective?
Now, more than ever, “cost effectiveness” matters. Today’s evolving market is replete with new, innovative and more cost-effective advertising and communications venues, ranging from electronic ads, e-newsletters, webinars, professional speaking engagements, in-house seminars, product demonstrations and video conferences. Make sure that your agency helps you to candidly evaluate
the pros and cons of each such opportunity as part of your compelling and cost-effective marketing strategy. It may cost less, but that's good.
Today’s business environment is rapidly changing
As our economy and business environment enter a historical shift, our food and beverage
ingredients industry faces unprecedented challenges. History tells us that those companies that
prosper in times of change are not the timid and the weak, but those that aggressively pursue
the new opportunities that “change” uncovers.
This is not the time to hide your company identity
and market contributions as trade secrets
Advertising and communications are critically important components of any successful sales and marketing program. This is the time to let everyone know just how good you are.
We hope that this checklist helps you to evaluate firms to find the absolute best Advertising and Communications agency for your company.
Call us at BEST VANTAGE Inc. to further discuss your advertising and marketing issues.
© 2008 to BEST VANTAGE Inc.