How To Tell If It’s Time To Fire Your Ad Agency

Should You Fire Your Ad AgencyGoing through an ad agency review for a is both difficult and energizing. Every meeting brings new insights. You see opportunities, solid creative and begin to see how this could help bridge some of your sales gaps.

Make no mistake, the effort involved is overwhelming in identifying and selecting a new marketing communications firm. Programs are on hold and the team is making do because the compelling new marketing theme/tagline/look is just around the corner. That’s the hope anyway.

Is it time to fire your ad agency?

Is It Time To Fire Your Ad AgencyMark Mitchell and I discuss this topic in length in his recent blog Is it Time to Fire Your Agency? posted on Whizard Strategy.

While there are a few good B2B client/agency relationships, Mark has seen over and over that find the majority of them are not very strong.  The result is that the client doesn’t get the results they should.

We explore 10 key situations that undermine a strong relationship.

  1. They don’t understand your business
  2. Purchase motivations are more complicated and nuanced than, “The customer will make more money selling your product”
  3. They don’t ask why
  4. They think increased spending is the only way to succeed
  5. You don’t have access to the leaders
  6. Constant turnover of your team
  7. What is their measure of success?
  8. A focus on creativity over strategy
  9. You feel taken for granted
  10. You can’t imagine the agency leaving you

More importantly, we provided you an actionable Ask Yourself tip to each one to help you better understand if that might be your situation.

There are a lot of agencies who do a good job of servicing their clients. Mark notes, “In my experience, there are a lot more who make a number of these mistakes. It’s like any good relationship, you have to work at it and not just take things for granted.”

What if the problem is you?

Time To Fire Your Ad AAgencyMark and I also see a lot of good agencies who can’t do a good job because their client gets in the way.  I know – I’ve been that client. Here are some ways this happens.

  1. Thinking that you are the creative person
  2. You hold back information
  3. You are cheap

Agency client relationships are the best when both groups are open and honest about the issues the business is facing and what it will take to overcome them. When these relationships are true partnerships, both companies will ultimately succeed and grow.

Good Selling!

About The Authors: Mark Mitchell is a Sales and Marketing Consultant who specializes in helping business owners and senior executives in the building materials industry overcome difficult sales problems. Using his extensive hands-on experience, he shows them how to creative effective strategies to identify and eliminate blind spots that allow them to get past the roadblocks that keep them from realizing their revenue goals. Click here to learn more about his one-day workshop “Selling Today’s Building Materials Prospect.” Or sign up for his monthly building material marketing newsletter here. 

Greg Bonsib gives his perspective from the client side. Greg has extensive experience in working with agencies in his marketing leadership positions at ODL, Owens Corning, Rubbermaid, Sentry Safe and Zenith Products. Greg also publishes an industry leading blog on Channel Marketing.

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

3 Ways to Make (and Keep) Your Brand Promise

clear, relevant, differentiating and compelling brand promisesWhat promises are you making to your customers?

To motivate customers, a brand promise must meet the following three goals:

  • It must convey a compelling benefit
  • It must be authentic & credible
  • The promise must be kept, every time

A brand promise is not a tagline telling customers what they should expect from your business.

Strong brands possess clear, relevant, differentiating and compelling brand promises. Even more importantly, they fulfill these every day.

3 Ways to Make (and Keep) Your Brand PromiseA company’s brand is its promise. And successful brands consistently deliver on their promises, which is how they create brand value.

The questions a company must ask to create a brand promise sound short and sweet, but effectively answering them requires intense and lengthy discussion about what the company means on the deepest level: how it does what it does, what the feel of working with the company is, and what kind of character the company has.

The goal is to develop a brand promise that is:

  • Clear
  • Relevant
  • Differentiating
  • Compelling

Equally important, is that a brand promise ensures that employees, channel partners and consumers can all answer the deceptively simple question of “Why Our Brand?” In fact, it will also allow your team to create marketing communications that inspire and motivate and enable consistent brand messaging throughout all our brand’s customer & partner touch points.

Ultimately, you need to describe how the brand delivers on its promise. A promise, however, is good only if it’s kept. If a company doesn’t deliver on its promise the majority of the time, its reputation—and sales—will likely decline.

The brand vision is the road map to a strong brand

The brand vision is the roadmap to a strong brandCore to the brand promise is the brand vision.  The brand vision is a plan that aligns all customer/shopper based initiatives to make more effective decisions across all business functions. Its purpose is to drive revenue and profits through the development of a strong, differentiated brand.

The brand vision…

  • Defines the company purpose
  • Provides metrics to measure business decisions
  • Identifies who the target audience is
  • Provides framework for new product development
  • Focuses messaging and the voice/tone to communicate with
  • Establishes an architecture for the brand
  • Identifies appropriate channels of trade

Although it seems intuitive, strong brands make for strong businesses

Strong brand are products and services in which consumers believe there are no substitutes.

strong brands make for strong businessesStrong brands…

  • Command premium prices
  • Create barriers to competition
  • Are not commodities
  • Inspire confidence and trust
  • Are products and services consumers connect emotionally with

A brand vision brings together 5 key elements

A brand vision brings together 5 key elementsThe five elements of a brand vision are:

  • Purpose − A single statement that embodies the company’s mission and desired perceptions.
  • Positioning − The benefit we deliver to the marketplace.
  • Character − How we want to be perceived.
  • Personality − The attributes that define the brand.
  • Brand Strategy − The masterbrand architecture that defines the relationship
    of your brand to other sub-brands, product brands and services.

Where it all comes together is the brand guide

brand-touchpointsThe brand guide is an interactive document that provides standards for brand management. It is a visual identity system that many refer to as brand guidelines.

These guidelines are the design standards for managing the brand, complete with examples of do’s and don’ts of how to use the library of logos, imagery and typography that creates the brands look, tone and feel.  It covers everything from letterhead and signage to packaging, advertising and web design standards. In short, all the places that the brand can come to life.

What does success look like?

Brand Promise Creates RelevanceThe questions involved in developing a brand promise look easier on paper than it is in reality Brand promise development is hard work that generally takes multiple brainstorming sessions, lots of competitive and market research, and extensive investigation into the true nature of the company. It’s exhausting work.

And yet, as with most things that are difficult, it’s invaluable. Companies that have clearly defined brand promises and values and attributes have strong frameworks for decision-making, and using these frameworks helps develop the brand’s strength and worth to the organization.

And the prize at the end?

  • A simple, differentiated brand essence and position that you can own.
  • Clear articulation for consumers, customers and employees of “Why Our Brand” above our competition – no matter who they are!
  • Brand identity that breaks through the clutter, is difficult for our competition to copy or has proprietary elements.
  • Can be translated to product, packaging, merchandising, advertising, web, and national promotions – a whole cadre of marketing and communications vehicles.
  • Articulation of essence, promise and identity into messaging and graphics that make consumers want to take action to buy our products NOW.
  • Creates value for retailers because consumers are coming to their brick & mortar or online establishment to look for you exclusively.
  • Capitalizes on employees’ pride to work for you making superior products and providing top-notch customer service and support.

Good Selling!

Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.

Do You Need a Brand Road Map?

brandDo you have a plan that aligns your customer and shopper based initiatives? It will help you make more effective decisions across all business functions.

Here’s how.

The goal of a brand vision is to drive sales and profits by building a strong, differentiated brand – yours.

A brand vision will…

  • Define your company’s purpose clearly for both internal and external audiences
  • Provide metrics to measure business decisions
  • Identify clearly who the target audience is
  • Provide a framework for new product development
  • Focus you messaging and the voice/tone to communicate with
  • Establish an architecture for the brand
  • Identify key channels of trade

A brand vision builds strong, profitable brands

This clarity and focus is what will help you build a strong brand  What is a strong brand?

Strong brands are products and services in which consumers believe there are no substitutes.

Strong brands:

  • Command premium prices
  • Create barriers to competition
  • Are not commodities
  • Inspire confidence and trust
  • Are products and services consumers connect emotionally with

But most importantly, strong brands help make the sales team’s job easier with sell in and the retailer’s job easier with sell through. In other words, everybody wins.

Brand visions are a road map to success

Your brand vision is going to set the tone and direction for the brand. It’s where you ultimately want the brand to stand for. As a result, the vision is a collection of six key components:

  • Purpose
  • Positioning
  • Character
  • Personality
  • Brand strategy
  • Brand guidelines

Purpose. Your purpose is a single statement that embodies the company’s mission and desired perceptions.

Positioning. These are the benefits we deliver to the marketplace.

Character. How we want our brand to be perceived.

Personality. These are the attributes that define the brand.

Brand strategy. This is the masterbrand architecture that defines the relationship of your brand to other sub-brands, product brands and services.

Brand guidelines. This is a comprehensive document that provides standards for brand management. Like the brand vision, this reflects your strategic brand goals, contains shopper and category marketing best practices and establishes a communications framework, identifying both required and flexible components.

Elements to include are:

  • Visual Identity System
  • Design standards for the brand
  • Masterbrand components
  • Compliant examples (do’s and don’ts)
  • Library of logos
  • Templates and brand toolkit
  • Web design standards
  • Packaging Strategy

Building a Brand Positioning Framework

Think of the framework as a four level pyramid. All levels should be supported by research, not guesswork.

  • 1st level (or the pyramid’s base) focuses on your brand’s attributes. These are tangible and can be seen or touched.
  • 2nd level is your brand’s functional benefits.  Once again, these are tangible and are  demonstrable benefits that ladder up from attributes.

Next two levels of pyramid are the emotional drivers for your brand.

  • 3rd level identifies your brand’s emotional end benefits. This is the “feeling” that comes from your brand, the voice through which your brand touches the consumer.
  • 4th level (or the pyramid’s capstone) identifies the bigger idea and tells what your brand “signs up for” in the lives of your core consumers.

Sum it all up with a single sentence that reflects this thinking: “Brand X is…” (the line that summarizes your brand essence).

A brand vision will lead you to insights that touch all of your marketing

No brand vision is complete without being able to clearly define your core consumer and key market segments.

Once you know more about your consumer you can begin talking to them in their terms, understanding their emotional connection to your brand and the path to purchase they follow.

Think about how this now informs your brand vision and your corporate strategies by providing:

  • End-user definition
  • Distribution programs
  • New product development insights
  • Communication vehicles
  • Messaging
  • Shopper-based best practices

Now your focus is on the consumer and what they want. The brand vision will lead you to insights that touches all of your marketing. Not only will it differentiate your brand from the competition, but it will create a strong brand that consumers will want and be willing to pay for.

Good Selling!

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.