The myth of the “full service” advertising agency

Finding the right advertising agency requires being honest with yourself

Finding the right advertising agency requires being honest with yourself

The advertising/marketing ecosystem is too large and complex to offer all services in-house

It’s an old illusion in the advertising business that agencies wanted to look larger then they actually were. The thinking behind this was that the more services you claimed to offer, the better chance you had of reeling in new accounts. It was this mindset that coined the phrase “full service” agency.

Enter reality

Today’s advertising/marketing ecosystem is far too complex for any one agency to possess all of the needed skill sets in-house. In fact, the major advertising holding companies have been on a buying spree acquiring specialized agencies and then trying to integrate them into their multinational brand name agencies.

What clients are ending up with is a convoluted mix with a lead agency that directs different specialized groups under the holding company umbrella. Of course, what goes along with this are turf battles, divergent strategies, off-brand messaging and a revolving door of well-intentioned agency people operating with a minimum amount of knowledge, trying to keep the client happy.

The small agencies specialize and the big agencies get bigger

Advertising Age recently published an article about how the forces of technology are ushering in and shaping new business models that will affect advertising agency service offerings, size, and profitability.

What we are seeing now is the rise of small boutique agencies that specialize in category, market, or technology expertise. These agencies have no illusions as to their service offering and are very transparent with their clients about what they bring to the table. They also offer their clients the greatest amount of flexibility, because they can contract with best of breed suppliers when a specialized service is required.

The multinational holding company agencies will continue to gorge, fueled by large brands that use advertising as a blunt force weapon. For all the prediction that consumers want to engage with brands and have a relationship, the majority of consumers just want to watch TV and tune out of their socially hectic worlds for a few hours entertained by mediocre television programming, supported by advertising that makes it hard to remember the name of the brand or what it is actually supposed to accomplish with daily use.

The forecast for the future does not bode well for mid-sized agencies

Mid-sized agencies suffer in two areas. First, they try to staff for too many specialized skill sets in the belief that their clients care about this. There is too much technology and infrastructure at play for any small department to be competent in the nuances of code and the required updates of operating systems to keep this humming along.

Secondly, mid-sized agencies suffer from non-billing personnel “creep,” ranging from administration to human resources to accounting. This starts to take a bite out of agency profitability at a time when clients are demanding more services for less cost.

Finding the right agency requires being honest with yourself

Do you want a long-term or a project-by-project business relationship? Do you need strategic planning and research or more of a tactical execution of internal strategy? Are you looking for an agency of record or interested in working with several agencies based on the need at hand? Each relationship has its pros and cons based on resources and expectations. I believe the agency of the future is small and nimble, creatively driven and staffed by a small team of experienced managers that can bring forth the forces and talent needed to complete the task at hand in an efficient manner.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

The Precarious State of Advertising & Marketing

Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

When to rethink

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Mobile marketing: Shiny object or game changer?

The mobile environment represents a further blurring of the lines between consumer and business marketing and advertising.

The mobile environment represents a further blurring of the lines between consumer and business marketing and advertising.

There is considerable content being generated on the topic of mobile marketing. Data suggests that by 2016 there will be over 196 million smart phone users (60% of the population) in North America. eMarketer is predicting $67 billion in digital ad spending, of which $40 billion will go towards mobile internet ad spending. Obviously these are sizable numbers but we should not lose sight of the total ad spend which is close to $200 billion, with traditional (broadcast and print) representing $132 billion.

As with any projection, the numbers serve the needs of the presenter. Therefore, one must consider the source and take a rational viewpoint concerning the size of the mobile marketing environment.

People-to-People marketing and the mobile marketing environment

The mobile marketing environment represents a further blurring of the lines between consumer and business marketing and advertising. Because the emphasis is on connecting with individuals, a strong case can be made that this is a transformational shift to People-to-People marketing.

People-to-People marketing shifts the conversation from companies to individuals as the workplace is deconstructed and mobile devices become the primary business platform. Mobile technologies such as Apps and mobile web are becoming part of the marketing mix as smart phone and tablet users adopt direct brand interaction, from ordering a pizza, to tracking health trends, to mobile banking.

Preparing B-to-B brands for mobile marketing

B-to-B brands would be wise to adopt a People-to-People marketing strategy and tactical implementation as they enter into the mobile marketing fray.

First, make sure your website is ”fully responsive” for viewing on different mobile devices. One way to check this is through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test site. This test site will analyze the URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design. Google is also in the process of optimizing their search engine results to favor mobile-friendly sites.

Advertising is also an option for reaching mobile users. As individuals uncouple from the traditional office environment, mobile devices become their primary business platform. Mobile programmatic advertising placement is becoming prevalent, with a host of real time bidding scenarios for placing advertising on mobile networks.

Marketers should also consider developing Apps if the cost is justified by the contribution the App makes to the revenue stream.

App development can cost between $50 and $150 thousand depending on the complexity of the App and the number of operation system platforms it is designed to run on. Think desktop, tablet, smartphone, running on IOS, Android, Unix, Windows, etc.

Once the App is built, the challenge of getting users to download and place it on their device comes into play. This can be accomplished via App stores or by direct download.

Then there’s the maintenance side of the App equation. Once it has been introduced, it must be maintained with updates as the operating system environments are upgraded and new releases become available.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

People-to-People Marketing and “Small Data”

5 reasons why aviation manufacturers need to embrace People-to-People Marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Business-to-business marketing and relationship building

Good business relationships are built on trust.

Good business relationships are built on trust.

The longer the sales cycles, the more important the relationship becomes

Business-to-business marketing has always been about establishing a relationship with the prospect. One reason for this is most considered purchases involve multiple parties, resulting in extended sales cycle time. With the new technology of programmatic buying and selling of digital advertising inventory, ad technology companies would like for you to believe that a constant barrage of banner ads will substitute for a relationship built on trust.

Opening doors for new business

We all rely on new business to keep our companies growing and profitable. Yet in today’s automated marketing environment, it seems that the value of relationship building (people talking to each other) has been deemed as inefficient and replaced with marketing automation platforms and churn-out emails.

To a degree, all B-to-B marketers rely on automation. The problems begin when marketers rely too much on automation and start viewing opens and click-through rates as a substitute for a person-to-person conversation.

Some sales people only want to invest their time with those who are ready to purchase. I can identify with this viewpoint; no one wants to waste his or her time on a deal that is going nowhere. But the issue remains that in the B-to-B sales environment, it can take months for a purchasing decision to be made, and during this time it can be affected by a multitude of external factors. The relationship is developed during this period as the sales person educates and counsels the prospect as to the advantages and positive results that their product offering will have on their business.

That is where the relationship comes in

Good business relationships are built on the following:

  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Communication
  • Business understanding
  • Anticipating needs
  • Delivering on the promise

There are also intangibles that go into a good business relationship, like understanding the person’s value system, as well as their background, goals, personality traits, and expectations.

This is the essence of people-to-people marketing and relationship building.

We all know the sales funnel cycle – awareness, interest, evaluation, trail, and adoption. The digital marketing environment is focused on the first three – awareness, interest, and evaluation – because it is transactional and therefore can be tracked using analytics. However, it takes a conversation leading to a relationship to move through trial and adoption.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

Do your customers suffer from “E-fluenza”?

Why bother with branding?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Influencing prospects before they enter the sales funnel

 

If the brand is not participating in social media, it’s at a disadvantage

If the brand is not participating in social media, it’s at a disadvantage

Social media content can influence business-to-business purchasing decisions

Up to 70% of prospects entering the sales funnel have already conducted online research and have formed a perception of the brand based on social media content. Because of this, if the brand is not participating in social media, it’s at a disadvantage.

Prospects entering the sales funnel are in search of information that will lead them to a purchasing decision. Whether the sale is transactional for a component or material needed immediately to make their product, or a considered purchase that has many influencers and a long sales time, prospects are relying more and more on peer reviews and social media engagement to finalize their purchasing decision.

People-to-people marketing – honing the brand’s key messages

Before launching into a social media marketing effort, it’s vitally important to establish the brand’s value proposition and be able to articulate it in terms that are meaningful to the prospect. Content that is purely a laundry list of service offerings fails to differentiate from the competition and leads to abandonment by the prospect or strictly a purchase based on lowest price.

Gaining the prospect’s attention requires identifying the prospect’s problems and creating empathy with the prospect. Once this emotional connection is established, then a solution can be offered that is relevant and distinct to the brand.

The social media platform ecosphere

Connecting with and influencing prospects on social media platforms requires a sustained effort spearheaded by content that supports the brand’s key messaging.

Each of the big four channels – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – has a particular strength. Business-to-business marketers are more inclined to use LinkedIn because of numerous industry groups in which to participate. LinkedIn also offers the ability to network with industry peers and establish connections with decision makers that have purchasing authority.

Twitter can be very useful but requires a content library to constantly feed updates. One of the advantages to using Twitter is that posts can be automated through third party platforms allowing for control of posting frequency. Twitter also provides immediacy when posting for events and is an easy way to connect the industry influencers.

Influencing prospects before they enter the sales funnel requires a concerted effort to develop and post authoritative content consistently. Abandoning social media channels sends a signal to the prospect that the brand either has underestimated the resources needed or was not serious about social engagement from the get-go.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Content development for aviation marketers is a communal affair

How to build a connected brand

Designing a social marketing strategy for Aviation Marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Ad Technology: Programmatic Advertising

Many marketers have become proponents of programmatic advertising.

Many marketers have become proponents of programmatic advertising.

Welcome to the high-speed trading desk for automated digital advertising placement

Marketers spent more then $3.37 billion on programmatic advertising last year. eMarketer is estimating the programmatic advertising will top $9 billion by 2017. Research studies by the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester indicated that only 23% of marketers said they used and understood programmatic advertising and that 26% indicated they understood the concept but needed to learn more about how to apply it to campaigns.

Kantar Media defines programmatic advertising as using technology to automate the buying and selling of digital advertising. “Programmatic” has different meanings to different people depending on which side — buyer or seller — of the transaction you are on.

The term is founded on an auction concept of buying and selling digital ad space inventory on ad exchanges and networks. Through this automated process, buyers bid for online ad impression through real-time auctions that occur in the time it takes for a webpage to load.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has identified 4 types of programmatic advertising transactions:

Automated guaranteed – refers to reserved inventory at a fixed price between one seller and one buyer. This can also be referred to as “Programmatic guaranteed.”

Unreserved fixed rate – unreserved inventory at a fixed price between one seller and one buyer. This is also known as “Preferred deals or Private access.”

Invitation-only auction – unreserved inventory available at auction prices between one seller and a few buyers. This is also referred to as “Private marketplace or Private auction.”

Open auction – unreserved inventory, available at auction prices between one seller and all buyers. This is referred to as “Real-Time Bidding (RTB) or Open exchange.”

These four types of transactions, based on two criteria, determine how the price is set and what type of inventory is transacted.

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The process of programmatic advertising

In its simplest form the process works like this: in the time it takes for an ad impression to load in a user’s web browser, information about the page it is on and the user viewing history is passed to an ad exchange, which auctions it off to the advertiser willing to pay the highest price. The winning bidder’s ad is then loaded into the web page.

Advertisers use demand side platforms (DSP) software to purchase advertising in an automated process. DSPs allow advertisers to purchase impressions across a wide range of publisher’s sites, but target specific users based on the geo-location and the users’ previous browsing behavior.

Publishers use supply side platforms (SSP) to connect their impression inventory to ad exchanges, DSPs, and ad networks all at once. This allows the publishers to offer their inventory to a large audience and achieve the highest rate possible for the ad impression.

If all of this reminds you of a stock exchange high-speed trading desk, you are correct, which is not surprising because most of these platforms are funded by venture capitalists, private equity firms, and publically traded advertising and media companies.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

People-to-people Marketing and “Small Data”

The challenges of “Big Data”

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

In 1958 McGraw-Hill published the famous “man in the chair ad.” This iconic image served as the rallying cry for decades of business-to-business marketing.

In 1958 McGraw-Hill published the famous “man in the chair ad.” This iconic image served as the rallying cry for decades of business-to-business marketing.

Remember studying “Mass Communications” in college? Mass communications was born out of the industrial revolution when manufacturers learned to make lots of the same thing via the assembly line. Henry Ford’s Rouge Factory was the model of efficiency, producing at times more than 1000 cars a day for a growing country. The assembly line concept also caught on with marketers.

This was due to the fact that the few media networks — broadcast and print — were large and expensive to staff and maintain. Networks could deliver the demographics that marketers were after and make it relatively efficient. All marketers had to do was to place advertisements with the assurance that their intended target audience would eventually be exposed to their brand messaging.

Under this model, the company controlled the time and place for customer communications. In addition, there were limited channels in which customers could express their opinion of the company’s products and services.

Enter People-to-People Marketing

Technology has ushered in the era of People-to-People Marketing. Mass communications has transformed into one-to-one communications. This is due to smaller, lighter and more powerful computing technology. With thousands of channels available and low entry cost, anyone can post their opinion about what they like and dislike. The same is true for brands. No longer are they confined to “mass communication” channels. The shift in technology has ushered in a cultural change, disrupting big media networks and requiring marketers to re-evaluate their strategies and tactics.

Now, connecting to customers calls for integrating both push and pull communications strategies to create brand preference.

People-to People Marketing is a strategic execution that combines relevant content with selected media channels to create a personalized experience for the customer. When orchestrated correctly, the content becomes the fiber of the brand story, reaching the customer on different emotional levels. Astute brands recognize this and are implementing People-to-People marketing to gain the customer’s trust and increase the likelihood of an emotional connection with the brand.

To learn more about the transformation of Business-to-Business marketing to People-to-People Marketing, click here to view and download our free guide.