Fair warning at the top. You are coming with me on a one-sided journey of thoughts and pontifications that ultimately will have no immediate conclusion or recommendations. Just musings. It's okay to close this window out here if that sounds horrible.
I am perplexed.
The landscape for agencies has dramatically changed in the past ten years. Whether it's shifting what they call themselves (ad, marketing, creative), how they structure the internal teams, or the way that they charge for service. And despite all the change, one element remains a constant pain in the ass: marketing themselves.
You might expect that the very experts crafting compelling brand narratives and devising innovative strategies for clients would love an opportunity to showcase their skills and attract attention. But alas, it rarely happens. And the agencies that do a lot of traditional advertising are not typically respected in the industry.
It's the same with law firms and insurance companies. Seeing a billboard selling their services can have a damaging effect on the image of the brand, even if it "performs" well. The context of seeing the brand as a sales pitch with a phone number can cheapen the services and make the appearance that volume interests them more than anything else. "If we work with them, we will be one of 100."
So, what gives with agencies?
Is it because of client demands and tight deadlines? Dedicating time and resources to self-promotion often takes a backseat. It's a juggling act that demands attention to both client needs and internal marketing efforts.
Or, is it because agencies often find it challenging to objectively evaluate their brand? Crafting an image that authentically represents their capabilities and values without succumbing to industry clichés requires intense introspection. Plus, it's easy to lose yourself when you are always focused on your clients. It does indeed require a partnership, and agencies are not going to hire each other for help. But, maybe they should.
Indeed, standing out in a sea of creative talent isn't easy. Defining a unique selling proposition that resonates with potential clients and demonstrating what sets the agency apart demands creative ingenuity and courage. Oftentimes, blog posts such as these serve as a promotional act to keep visibility up (I'm getting very meta here). But surely we can be better practitioners of our craft to elevate work across the board.
Michael is the Creative Director and co-founder of FoxFuel Creative. He loves British music, vintage German cars, and American history, and his sarcasm knows no bounds. #DreamBig