I tend to cringe a little bit any time someone calls Evangalist a marketing agency. And no, I'm not just being persnickety about people referring to us as the proper type of agency. You can only imagine how often the name Evangalist is mispronounced, misspelled, or misconstrued, and I rarely correct anyone or take offense. The reason I cringe is that I don’t want anyone to consider us an agency that believes we can take on the entire marketing efforts of their organization. We can advertise with the best of them, we can create beautiful tools that showcase the benefits of their product or service, but we can only really execute a portion of their marketing strategy.
In short, we have no control over a company's product or service before it gets to us.
The Business Dictionary defines marketing this way:
The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer. It includes the coordination of four elements called the 4 P's of marketing:
(1) Identification, selection and development of a product or service.
(2) Determination of its price.
(3) Selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer's place.
(4) Development and implementation of a promotional strategy.
Our team tends to come into that process somewhere around number three, and many times just number four. This means we are a fantastic partner to help brands understand where their audience lives and to help them engage that audience, but we have zero control over the following three things:
(1) Whether a client has identified a viable market pre-launch.
(2) Whether the product or service actually meets the needs of the audience to whom we're broadcasting.
(3) The determination of price-points, which if done poorly can undermine the successful execution of the first two items.
As passionate as we are about advertising, we will be the first to admit that it means nothing unless steps 1-3 in a marketing process are properly executed. I love what Seth Godin says in his book Purple Cow:
No matter how much lipstick we use, we just can’t turn an ugly brown pig into a beautiful purple cow, as Godin would put it. Either the story is worth telling or it’s not. Especially in the social media-driven age we live in, the marketplace will call us out in a hurry if we’re inauthentic or attempting to tell a story that just isn’t there. Solid offerings that legitimately solve a problem at the appropriate price stay in the marketplace and thrive, and unfortunately the ones that don’t go by the wayside. Business is brutal in that way and no advertising campaign can change that. No brand is obligated to be successful because they have the right photography or are advertising to the right audience. At the end of the day, the product has to sell itself.
I tell pretty much anyone who will listen, “Our team will absolutely break our necks fighting for your success, but we just can’t promise a certain result.” Any agency that promises more than that, unless they somehow happened to enter your marketing process from step 1, is full of it.
In today’s digital age, the wealth of insight we are able to gain through various dashboards and the decisions we're able to make because of it is astounding and exciting. We're an agency that loves to stew over analytics and make hypotheses based on historical sales data and lead generation trends. However, there is simply no way to accurately predict the market’s interaction and interest in a campaign enough to say “Mr. Prospective Client, if you sign with us we will guarantee “x” amount of leads in “x” days or “y” amount of sales in Q4.” If an agency says something that sounds like that, proceed with caution. What you can be sure of is that we're putting your brand in front of a highly targeted audience who should be in the market for a product like yours. But once we've engaged that audience, the product has to do a great deal of the heavy lifting.
The opinions we've expressed here may sound like they're meant to talk you out of advertising. To a certain extent that's true; if you have reservations about your current offering we'd rather you spend your time and money iterating it before you engage an agency. We can advertise your product in a precise and compelling way, but that's only the second half of marketing. To be successful in marketing, your product has to be marketable. If you can't attest to your offering's marketability, you'll be mad at your advertising agency for all the wrong reasons.