The thing I hate about agencies

I know. I spent twenty-odd years at an Agency.

Yet, in these twenty years there is something I grew progressively weary about, to the point of disgust, and that is the tendency of agencies to make things look more complicated than they are. So complicated, in fact, you will need their help to figure them out.

This selling-by-obfuscation is obviously encouraged by its very victims, silly clients who do not try to understand, do not demand clarification, but want a quick fix: unlike the proverbial starving man, they do not want to be taught to fish, but rather be given a trout.

This truly bad article is a fantastic example of this: under the disguise of explaining something, it explains nothing except that the matter is so complex you ought to ask the help of whoever wrote the article.

Well, it’s not.

Any fool can run a successful digital marketing campaign because, contrarily to a marketing campaign IRL, you can follow your prospective client as s/he matures along a path you know very well, because it’s not dissimilar from the path your clients have trodden since the beginning of time:

  1. An ad catches their eye and they come visit you – do not focus only on click-through, but rather use the ratio of impressions to visits (minus the regular no-campaign visits, of course)
  2. You ask them to do something and some will “play”: if your engagement is done right, it will produce some sort of token which they can exchange for a small freebie at the store (physical or online it does not matter)
  3. While at the store, a selling proposition will be made, which some will pick up
  4. Instead of forgetting about them once you grab the money, you ask them to continue to give feed back, hopefully positive, by means of some other engagement trick

Each of these steps has ONE lever and generates ONE reading that’s extremely easy to measure: if for example step #2 is not working well (i.e. not enough of those visiting your site “play”) try with another engagement trick: it takes less than a day to switch from one Facebook game to another.

That’s the sort of clarity the client should demand: when you see a forest of levers and a Christmas tree of dials, I guarantee you won’t be able to guess which one to read, and which one to pull  and therefore you won’t be able to associate any discernible result to any specific lever. At which point you will need the Agency but, alas, they themselves do not know which lever is the right one, so they’ll start to waffle around.

Project #fail!

 

5 thoughts on “The thing I hate about agencies

  1. Reblogged this on jonathankopp and commented:
    Cheers to Gianni, the sensemaker! Digital marketing, like all marketing, is not rocket science. Of course, specific knowledge and experience helps increase the odds of success. But in most cases, overcomplicated advice is a sign of a lack of expertise, hucksterism, or both.

  2. Cheers to Gianni, the sensemaker! Digital marketing, like all marketing, is not rocket science. Of course, specific knowledge and experience helps increase the odds of success. But in most cases, overcomplicated advice is a sign of a lack of expertise, hucksterism, or both.

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