What’s the definition of an “agency”?


As a marketing professional I get deluged with ads, posts, junk mail and articles offering a vast array of get-rich-quick business “opportunities.”

Yesterday I actually stopped to read one of them.

Why on earth would I do that?

Because it began by debunking all the other get-rich-quick business models that are circulating these days. And because the answer is closely related to what I do.

“Forget about affiliate marketing, multilevel marketing, product launch formulas, video sales letters and online classes,” they said . “If you’re looking for the fastest, easiest path to scalable, 6-figures a month, just open a digital ad agency. No experience necessary. Just complete this 90-minute masterclass, and you’re in business.”

As a long-time advertising guy and agency owner, this is cringeworthy stuff.

They make it sound soooo easy, and hundreds of people do it every single month. They sit through a webinar that teaches the basics of TikTok’s ad platform and then they hang up a shingle with the grandiose dream of scaling up and selling out within three years.

Many of these “agency” owners are getting lambasted on social media for false advertising. The critics say they’re overselling what is, essentially, a freelance Facebook ad placement service. Nothing more than what you’d find on Fivr.

So that’s what’s in store for you if you’re thinking of running an ad campaign through an “agency.” Plenty of choices, but the service may not be what you think it is.

Before you pull the trigger, there are some key things you should know:

Understand where digital ad agencies fit within the overall scheme of “digital marketing agencies,” ad agencies, and even within the broad range of “marketing firms.”

The marketing landscape is loaded with specialties, and Facebook ad placement services is way down the list. Media placement on Facebook, or any other channel, is a small but profitable part of any real agency. Here’s an in-depth article that defines the various niches and helps you figure out what you really need.

Set your expectations and scope of work accordingly. There are plenty of capable young specialists who can find their way around the Facebook ad platform, but you can’t expect them to help you with creative execution of the ads, much less brand positioning, marketing strategy, content development or messaging.

That would be like hiring the PortaPotty delivery guy to do all the plumbing on a high rise condo project.

So you either hire a real firm with a much more holistic approach to advertising, or you find other specialists to fill in, or you take that on yourself. It can turn into a real time sucker.

Do your homework first. Make sure you’ve studied up on the difference between strategy and tactics. Don’t fall into that common marketing trap where the tail’s wagging the dog.

Set your strategy first, then your messaging, then your creative execution. Be very clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. Once that’s all done, you’ll have something you can hand off to that guy with the get-rich-quick digital agency.

Understand the only metric that matters to them. The scale-to-sell school of agency management is concerned with one thing: Total dollar volume of ad spend per month.

They’re not concerned with your brand, your market situation, or your overall marketing effort. They don’t even think much about their own work. They just want the cash flow and the commissions so they can get the maximum multiplier when they sell out.

The only questions they’re asking is “what’s your monthly ad budget” and “how can we get these guys to keep spending more and more on ads every month?”

And like most get-rich-quick ideas, it can work for a few exceptional people. There’s always a tiny hint of truth behind those things, but is that really what you’re looking for in a marketing partnership?

Real agencies ask tough strategic questions that you’re probably not prepared to answer. They provide insight you would never have otherwise and they push you to new business heights.

Not just new ad channels.

Cheers to your success!


Seeking to build and grow your brand using the force of consumer insight, strategic foresight, creative disruption and technology prowess? Talk to us at +971 50 6254340 or engage@groupisd.com or visit www.groupisd.com/story

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