Sing, Sing A Song

Northwestern student and aspiring journalist Drew Gannon has a feature piece for her tear sheet titled “How to Choose an Advertising Agency” running in Inc.

I certainly don’t want to pick on aspiring journalist, but I will challenge her conclusions (it’s a professional obligation).

Many small businesses just out of the entrepreneurial gate rely on their own abilities and the abilities of their staff for in-house advertising and marketing needs. But for most emergent companies, a partnership with an advertising agency is an unavoidable step in the growth process.

Excuse me? Lots of successful firms have neatly avoided ever hiring an ad agency.

Furthermore, hiring an ad agency isn’t a negative, it’s a chance for the company to sing.

Gannon has more advice for brand managers seeking an agency…

With an RFP in hand, it’s time to start the actual search. Remember that agencies come in all shapes, sizes, and colors: there are thousands of them, and they are constantly changing.

No. RFPs are lame. I, like many of my peers in this business, have a talent for putting things on paper, but there’s much more to initiating and maintaining a successful client-agency relationship. It begins with chemistry, and in the best cases is followed by mutual respect and a long-term friendship.

Believe me, I wish that it was as easy as searching the Web for the right agency resource, but it’s not. People who sling ideas for a living typically need to come highly recommended, because the creative arts are a mystery to many. Just like medicine, law and accounting.

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