There is an awful lot of content out there about what agencies can’t do. These posts or articles always seem to attract a lot of attention and retweeting and what-not. I think it may be because a lot of them are framed in a “this or that” kind of way. For example, “If you want to have control of your brand, don’t use an agency,” or “This is the way the cool people do it, but you could also use an agency.” Now, I don’t take these posts personally, per se, because I know that these posts and articles have nothing to do with our company. However, I do think I need to set a few things straight, at least based on my own experience, which, by the way, is with an agency. So, here are three “agencies can’t” statements I see quite often along with my opinion on the matter.
Agencies can’t help you control your brand: The other side of this coin is that agencies can help you build a brand. With the ability to look at the big picture, meaning cross-channel, agencies can advise you on how to build your brand, whether it’s for a new company, a new product brand, or even a personal brand. Understand, agencies do not take take ownership of your brand (if they are doing things right), but they can provide you with the information and tools to build and control your brand. I know it’s trendy right now to imagine that all agency people are heavy-breathing, dapper, whiskey-drinking dudes who let their ego get in the way of what’s best for you and your brand, but, sadly, this is not true across the board.
Agencies can’t keep up with new technology: If you have ever worked for an agency that had a will to survive, you know the fallacy of this statement. In fact, an agency’s life depends on keeping up with new technology, and in my experience, “living” is very important for both businesses and people. When I was a little girl, which was not ALL that long ago, the artists at our agency had huge shelves full of markers. Now we have computers. About 3 years ago, our designers were using Quark. Now we’re using InDesign almost exclusively. When I first started working for our agency, we were still sending PR via snail mail. We were placing space via a faxed order. Everything is email and digital now. This makes me sound like I’ve hit the century mark and am looking back on the good ole days. This is six years. All we do is keep up, and ahead of, new technology.
Agencies can’t find a role in Social Media: This I think is fed a bit by some agency folks, who are kind of running around like their pants are on fire. “We can’t do this omg the money the time and they want ROI on this we can’t do that omg omg.” Etc, ad infinitum. A marketing firm, or an agency, is responsible for marketing. Social Media is marketing (sorry folks, but it’s true. Saying that you are using Twitter for “professional reasons” does not keep you clean in this regard). In fact, agencies just need to get situated again, and companies need to view agencies as a new employee that has multiple heads, arms, sets of eyes, and sets of ears. We can help you listen, and we can offer you ways to respond to what you hear. We can integrate those responses into other marketing channels that we work on with you. We can help you create and manage accounts. We can help you create the content that will drive your Social Media engine.
To me, the pigeon-holing of agencies is about misinformation on the part of some people and some laziness on the part of some agency folks. It’s not easy doing the kinds of things I just talked about. It’s downright difficult to keep your arms around each new iteration of programs we use, not to mention the Facebook updates we hear about every 5 minutes, the Google updates we hear about every 10 minutes, and I’m not even going to mention mobile. But it can be done. We do it.