I guarantee each and every one of you has had a friend who’s bugged you to find them a job at your office, regardless of their background or skills.
And then they come to work at an agency and discover that, yes, there is a lot of drinking, but it’s a coping mechanism. And you take a three-hour lunch because you’re working a 20-hour day. But that’s another story for another time.
Some agencies, however, do not do such a great job of marketing themselves. In fact, some do such a horrendous job, it’s ironic that they’re in the marketing industry whatsoever. Here are 10 easy steps to marketing your agency like an asshat (or 10 red flags to watch for if you need to hire a creative team or if you’re polishing up the ol’ resume).
10. Have a lot of toys that no one is allowed to play with
Having a play area for people to “get creative” is pretty common at advertising agencies. I worked at a place where there were scooters, an Xbox, and a pool table to help people unwind and brainstorm - and we used them all the time, and they worked. But beware the agency with the dusty air hockey table parked strategically right inside the front door. Sometimes in a desperate attempt to look “fun” and “creative”, agencies will put these toys in the middle of the work area, and no one is allowed to play with them. It’s a sweatshop with a foosball table taunting you for the 20 hours per day you spend there slaving away. Take it from me: if there are toys, and no one is playing with them, it's a trap.
9. Give people imaginary job titles
Some agencies invent job titles for their team to appear unconventional and out of the box. But an account manager is an account manager, even if you’re calling her a Princess of Brand Magic. Girrrrrrrrl, please. You ain’t no princess. You are going to be pushing budgets and harassing people about deadlines just like your straight-up account manager sisters.
8. Fill your team with ‘gurus’
This is still shockingly common: go to an agency’s website and look at the team page. Is there a Social Media Guru? Delete from your browser history. Rip up that cover letter. Remove from your RFP mailing list. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Unless you are looking to work with a Sanskrit temple, avoid the guru!
7. Keep talking about that one piece of creative you produced years and years ago that won an award
This is akin to your friend who once hooked up with a 8 when he usually pulls 5’s and won’t stop talking about it despite the fact that it happened in 2006. Agencies like to harp on and on about their big successes, naturally. But really, let’s move on. Talk about your current and developing skill set rather than Bruce Springsteen-esque reminiscing about the glory days. Onward and upward!
6. Use random, meaningless phrases
5. Talk about “trends” and being “cutting edge” on your website that hasn’t been updated since 2006
Nice non-responsive Flash website, gramps! If you don’t care enough about the details when it comes to your own work, how does that reflect on your clients? The excuse about the “cobbler’s children don’t get new shoes” is also bullshit. Having an old, outdated site says you’re out of touch and bad at managing your own time and resources.
4. Have an office dog
Look, I get it. I love dogs. Everyone loves dogs! Who wouldn’t want a dog at the office? Except: Dogs smell like dogs. They get hair everywhere. They poop on the floor. They bark during conference calls. They drool and they might bite. Some people do these things, too. But you can talk to HR about people. There is no HR for dogs. The office dog is awesome in theory, terrible in practice.
3. Put your most junior person in charge of all your social media
This happens oh so frequently. The intern needs something to do! Let’s give him all our social media passwords and let him go to town! He’s young, and all the young people are on the Twitters! Often agencies (and companies in general) don’t understand how important social media is. Even agencies who employ purported social media experts (gurus?). Whoever is in charge of your social media needs to be engaging, responsive, creative, and above all, reflective of your brand. Not someone who's Twitter profile pic has them doing shots at da club.
2. Intentionally misspell words in your business name to be clever
Kreative Korner, anyone? This isn’t kreative, klever, or kute. We are not Kardashians.
1. Run an ‘edgy’ viral campaign that gets you sued
Everybody wants to do something original and fresh but ideally you don’t want to hear the words “better call Saul!” in the workplace. And if you’re a client, you need to feel confident in your agency of record and be able to put your trust in knowing that they have your best interests at heart. Clients don’t want to be working with a bunch of outlaw renegades who will stop at nothing to win themselves an ADDY. A little more Stirling Cooper Draper Pryce, a little less Sons of Anarchy.
We know there are many other ways to market your agency like an asshat. Any suggestions to share with us? Leave them in the comments!
It’s not enough to survive. You want to THRIVE.
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