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Looking for a New Advertising Agency?
It’s a Buyer’s Market – But Be Careful

December 2009 Communication

The economic downturn may prove a major opportunity to mid-size companies looking to change advertising agencies.

As the recovery emerges, it may become an excellent time for an advertiser to re-focus, get some fresh ideas and ride the wave of a new economic upturn.  Moreover, midsize companies seeking a new ad agency may find some of the biggest and best agencies in the nation lining up to bid on their business.

Don’t be deceived by all this apparent attention!

When times are tough, ad agencies, which have huge fixed costs, will often pitch business that is out of their sweet spot because they desire the revenues and want to keep their creative and backroom staffs busy.  In an effort to acquire these “sub-prime” accounts, agencies will often bring in their top people to pitch this marginal business.

When big-time people who have worked on high-visibility accounts tell the erstwhile client how much the agency wants their business, these smaller accounts can easily become over-impressed.  The thought of this big-time Madison or Michigan Avenue agency wanting to work for them can be quite enticing, but before you fall madly in love, ask some crucial questions?

Are these wonderful people soliciting my business actually going to be working on my account?

What are the specific deliverables I can expect from this agency?

How important is my account going to be to this agency?

In the selection process, be sure you are introduced to the specific individuals who will be working on your account.  Make sure the chemistry is right, and their backgrounds and experience mesh with your expectations.  Take a close look at other accounts this prospective account team is working on.  If the account team, for example, is also working on a major high-profile, high-budget account, won’t that high-profile account take precedent over your needs?

In the final analysis, find an agency that is most comfortable with your size of account.  Find an agency that truly values your business and not one that is looking for smaller accounts to provide cash flow during difficult times.  Find an agency that you can grow with in the long run.

A new advertising agency might  be a prudent decision – especially as the economy begins its recovery process.  The key is to find a compatible agency that truly values your business.



About the author

James T. Berger, Managing Editor of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit www.jamesberger.net or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.

James T. Berger
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