“Strategery” is Not Just for Will Farrell

Posted on February 20, 2009

This post addresses the challenge facing ad agencies seeking to position themselves as marketing solutions providers — go beyond the brochure and actually re-invent your firm.  I can help you do it.

I recently met with an agency who was concerned about coming advertising budget cuts from clients and how it would impact them.  As I listened to the agency talk about the need to diversify their services and become more measurable in their marketing, I couldn’t help but think “…why did they need a global economic meltdown to motivate doing something that should have been part of their marketing approach from Day One?”  The goal of the meeting was to determine if I might be able to help them offer an integrated marketing approach to their clients that is measurable.   After the meeting, I picked up one of their beautifully designed brochures on the way out of their office.

Earlier this week I decided to take a closer look at this finely produced piece to understand how this agency is positioning itself to its clients (remember “marketing forensics” from our previous posts?)  The multi-page brochure/booklet was high quality to be sure.  I noticed their tag line emphasized a couple key disciplines:  strategic marketing & branding.  I thought OK, let’s see how the agency tells the story of applying their strategic marketing and branding skills to solve actual client problems.  It stands to reason that prospective clients should be looking for clues as to an agency’s methodology and results in solving problems like the one(s) they are facing.

The cover of the booklet had a sentence that celebrated the agency’s heritage.  The first page of the booklet talked about the history of the agency, and that their people were smart, creative, and honest.   Thus far, everything I read was focused on self (“all about the agency”) and lacked any evidence of strategic marketing, branding, or how this agency could help a client.   Besides, did they really need to tell me that their people were smart, creative and honest?  There was also a list of core skills, but the two core expertise areas listed in their tag line were not on this list.

The next page contained statements of values and ethics.  So like the previous page, it seems like a waste of page space and reader attention span to state the obvious. Still no mention of strategic marketing, branding, or evidence the agency can solve any client problem (let alone measure it).  The subsequent page contained more statements about being attentive to the client and providing great creative.  Creative? But the tag line says they provide strategic marketing & branding.   At this point I’m halfway through their booklet and still no “reasons to believe” the tag line and I’m beginning to get lost in the lack of consistency.   The final pages described how successful the agency is and that was a reason prospective clients should do business with them.   Is this really a reason to believe in the brand positioning claim?

If this firm was unable to tell their own brand story and engage the reader — how can they possibly do it for a paying client?

Reflecting on their dilemma, my conclusion was that despite their sincerity to diversify their service model, they are mired in vaguery: pretty images, wandering statements, unsupported tag lines, and an inability to demonstrate tangible impact to a client’s business.  The point isn’t to unfairly pick on this firm — rather, to inspire you to self-examine your own brand promise.

I think Will Farrell said it best on SNL when playing George W. Bush:  STRATEGERY

1 Reply to ""Strategery" is Not Just for Will Farrell"

  • Rob Frankel
    February 20, 2009 (8:20 pm)

    I wonder how much back rent they owe on their ivory tower….This is the argument for culling the herd. Maybe, just maybe, once all the hacks and posers are starved out, some real branding strategies and tactics can show their stuff. Did I mention I have a book on that? At http://www.RevengeofBrandx.com? 😀

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