Why Are Most Advertising Agency Websites So Dreadful?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Flash Reports

1. Why Are Most Advertising Agency Websites So Dreadful?
2. AgencyFinder is a “Club” for New Business Professionals – Special Offer!
3. What Agencies Can Learn From Architects
Paul Gumbinner, President of The Gumbinner Company, executive recruiters for the advertising industry; Contributor to Adweek and Ad Age; Glass collector; Former Chairman of Urban Glass; Blogger, created a small stir with his blog post last Tuesday on the state of agency websites and I weighed in. Check it out:
We did something similar within an e-mail September 29, 2009 entitled “Prospects complained about your website” when I wrote:
I had to write; too many prospects are complaining about agency websites. After you surface as a qualified candidate in one of our client searches (meaning your agency has the vertical market experience, services, markets, size and location they want), they get to see your non-confidential AgencyFinder file. There, we give them a link to your website where they expect to find an enhanced and certainly colorful presentation of the data and essays they found in our data files. More often than not, they don’t!

I’m not speaking about your website specifically, but I am writing because the newer generation of agency websites are often off-target, limited in scope, confusing and frankly – poor new business tools! For example, when an “integrated marketing communications firm” surfaces because they claimed they offer public relations, media relations and technical advertising, but when the agency website makes no mention of any of that, guess what? Best case – the prospect complains to us. So we spend time (fighting on your behalf) and when we know for certain, we suggest they just “trust you!”  Worst case, if we can’t confirm, you get dropped from consideration and we too are now suspicious of your data. Doesn’t do any of us any good.

In an email earlier this year, in the same vein, I wrote about “category experience.”  Pardon me if I shout!!!, but a current client list is more often to your disadvantage than advantage. Clients are more likely to see what they perceive as a conflict than a reason to invite you. Beyond that, client names or logo-links are time-wasters (unless the brands are abundantly clear – BFGoodrich, Wal-Mart, etc.) Clients do not have time to poke around an agency playground!

Bottom line: Build and place a “Category” tab on your site – for current as well as past client categories. For services (i.e. public relations, media relations, technical advertising) – make a similar and all-inclusive tab or list.

P.S. – Another pet peeve. All else being equal, clients select agencies for “chemistry”. Why then would any agency site fail to highlight (in photos and bios) their significant others? As I read again for the thousandth time “our (un-named, un-numbered, un-credentialed) staff has X years of experience”, I find myself about to choke!

Then we did an update on November 16, 2010 here:
Your agency website will play a more important role today than ever before. I’m happy to critique yours if you like.
We’ve always been a unique service for new business pros. If that’s your job responsibility, you’ll appreciate the power and precision of our process and how we go about conducting a proper agency search.  Viewed from the agency perspective and from that of the client as well, we’re often likened to the e-Harmony or Match.com of the advertising industry.
Our records show it’s time to renew, so you’ll appreciate our affordable $500 registration fee that activates your profile; gets you unlimited invitations and client introductions so you can hold your “due-diligence” phone interview to evaluate the opportunity. NOW ON SALE! Register or renew before February 28, 2013 and get 2-years (24-months) at that level for the price of one. All that for just $500. If you like that option, you might also favor our Budget Option. Saves you $1,000!

We get periodic White Papers from Mike Carlton, whose slogan is “Improving the business of advertising agencies.” His piece this month was particularly interesting since I’ve heard agencies use architects from time to time to disclaim calling for “Spec Creative,” suggesting that certainly an architect wouldn’t do that. His paper doesn’t address that issue, but what he does cover is worth the read. He introduces it this way:
“Agencies and architects are alike. Both create concepts and designs and then supervise their implementation. But, there is one big difference. Agencies pay bills for clients. Architects don’t. Here’s what this means, and what you can do about it.” 
Here at AgencyFinder, I have used lawyers to make the spec creative comparison, but I don’t anymore. I brought that subject up with our law firm (second largest in Virginia) and to my surprise heard that they now go to great lengths (including what we might call spec) to land a new corporate client. Bottom line – you need to do whatever you can and within reason to demonstrate to your prospects both that you “get it” with respect to their business challenges, and that you will be able to do something positive about it! Call it spec or whatever, you need to do something!

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