Why Finding An Advertising Agency is Not an Easy Task


This is a blog I recently wrote for Marketing Executives Networking Group.

Now I imagine that if you were an agency owner reading this you could be a touch frustrated. You might respond, “Look I am right here. I am easy to find.” But that is not always the case.

I look for agencies all the time when I am conducting an agency search and it’s not an easy undertaking in the New Normal. Sure you can find the usual suspects but I want to go deeper than that and find emerging talent. Then again many established agencies are invisible.

Recently, I met with some clients who are looking for a one stop approach but don’t have the budget for multinational fees. They are frustrated by having too many touch points. They may have a traditional agency, a digital agency, a media agency, a PR agency, a social media agency. You get the picture. Instead of managing the brand they are managing the process.

But it is tough to find agencies that can do it all and I have an advantage since I have an extensive network and am out there networking and posting more than most agencies. Since I have conducted a number of agency searches I know some places to look where others may not go.

But what’s a client to do who is trying to find an agency partner that could have a direct impact on their career going to go? In Southern CA, where I live, they may go to a Book of Lists and turn to the Advertising Agencies section. Looks like there are plenty of choices here but looks are deceiving.

I have also looked at the Book of Lists in many cities and some listings make me chuckle. The data tends to be at least a year old or more… A lifetime in the New Normal. I see agency listings that say they have 280 employees and they aren’t even around.  Companies that lose large accounts get out of town quick. I see agencies listing clients that they don’t have. I see an agency that I heard hired actors when a prospect came to visit their shop so they would look bigger.

When I see agencies that look promising I send them an e mail and mostly never hear back. Then I call them and get a message that nobody is there right now. How can an agency with 35 people supposedly not have anybody in the office? I don’t make this stuff up.

Many websites for agencies that you find aren’t kept up to date and may not contain the experience that you looking for even though they may have it. So your ships will pass in the night. There will be no reflecting on what might have been.

Also many up and coming agencies position themselves as strictly digital shops. They are great at what they do but they don’t do traditional work and consumers still look at outdoor boards and watch over 20 hours of TV a week. The stats are there.

You can try doing a Google search on the agencies that you find but since agencies don’t market themselves very well there won’t be much there or new news for most. Even Google can’t reveal what is behind their doors if they don’t put it out there.

There are also agencies that are easy to find. They reach out to you so often when you don’t have a need that you are too tired of them and already don’t like them even though you have never met them. Being too needy is never good in dating or New Business. There is a similarity to both dances.

You would think that finding something an easy would be easy to do. It’s a precarious dance.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:


Watch: Why Agency Principals Need to Get Out of the Game.

Read these articles:

Creating an Agency Culture in the New Normal.

What Kind of Client are You?

The Most Powerful Word in Agency New Business is NO.


8 thoughts on “Why Finding An Advertising Agency is Not an Easy Task

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