What Ad Agency Clients Want

The Client Need-Scape = What Ad Agency Clients Want

There is no single type of client. But, most clients want a similar array of attributes and deliverables from their ad agency. From an agency business development perspective, clearly enunciating that you understand the client need-scape, the what ad agency clients want from you, is critical in the early stages of your marketing.

So, What Do Ad Agency Clients Want?

I believe that although clients range from “I want to be cool and plugged into the culture” to “I need measurable incremental eCommerce sales”, they all have at least these three core needs. These are the needs that you must address in your outbound and inbound ad agency business development program.

Here’s my list. Your mileage may vary. But, I bet that you have to hit all or some of these points sooner or later.

The Need For Results – Think ROI

Many ad agencies lead with the ‘we are creative’ story. As an ex-agency owner and client, I fully understand this lead point. This is, without question, a key requirement for virtually any client that is trying to get there marketing noticed and break out of their competitive pack.

However, just saying that your ad agency is creative is simply not going to cut it. After all, being creative is a highly subjective point (like, how do you prove this to a wide range of clients – yes, awards do help) and even worse, being perceived as creative can be fleeting. Yesterday’s creative agency is quickly replaced by today’s. This happens every year. Remember when Crispin Porter + Bogusky was the hot shop?

Having a results-oriented – think ROI – positioning or just a serious and clear agency brand statement about meeting this need is a must have in 2018. Marketing is a tough game.

CMO’s come and go based on their sales success.

Procurement departments want measurable returns for less.

CEO’s want increased shareholder value and to make their performance bonus.

Owners want more cash in their pocket.

Therefore, address these results-oriented needs and pain points. At issue, is understanding your target market’s or brand’s definition of positive results in your marketing will be a bit tricky. Tricky? Yes, because the definition of results will vary by client type.

Some clients just need more qualified leads. Think B2B.

Some need measurable sales. Think eCommerce.

Some just need more targeted digital traffic. Think the travel category.

Some want engagement. Think fashion brands.

Some want to improve their image. Nike anyone?

Regardless of the type of results – clients want to hear you talk about how you know that they know that you will deliver a high return on investment. Need an example of a digital agency that gets it? Visit HawkSEM and see how they immediately message ROI. Of course, they are a type of agency that can put ROI right in your face. But, you get the idea.

Last point. Ad agency leaders worry about inroads by marketing consultancies. They should. Why? Well, one point. These guys fully understand what the ad agency client’s want…  Here is a direct quote from McKinsey’s About Us page.

We help our clients make significant and lasting improvements to their performance and realize their most important goals. With nearly a century of experience, we’ve built a firm uniquely equipped to this task.

You Have To Understand The Client’s Business And Industry

Prospective clients want to know that you understand their market, consumers and competitive landscape. They do not have much time for your education. Read More »

Your Ad Agency Name And Getting Found

Your Ad Agency Name

I am about to make two points. One is about the value of an ad agency name. The second is how to get future clients to find, notice and love you.

How is your ad agency name doing for ya? Is it memorable? Does it create some brand power? Does it describe what you do? Does it just sound ‘cool’? Does it help grow your agency?

Frankly, I do not think that a name matters that much. Sure, it probably shouldn’t be too complex, or too cute (though many are very cute) and it should be memorable in some way (there are, after all, 4,000 plus “agenceis” to choose from.)

By the way, head over to my two-part post on how to name your agency (or even help a client with their name). This post has been read over 31,000 times. Crazy!

An ‘Ad Agency Name Generator’ = Borrowed Interest To Get Found

I don’t know about you, but I get a few emails a month from people asking me if I take guest posts on this blog. This week I got a request from an ad agency name generator. I said no – but I like the website.

The ad agency name generator. Actually, it is called Business Name Generator. Like most automated web-based generator tools it is kinda fun to play with. That said, it could actually offer you some (LOL) branding ideas.

I played with the tool and came up with a few names just for you should you want to rename your agency or need a fresh one for your new gig. Here are a few for inspiration or just laughs.

I got to these random names by searching on: “ad agency”

  • Poke
  • Woop
  • Velocity
  • Surge
  • Gorilla
  • Rogue
  • Tiger
  • Kick
  • Quicksilver
  • Ricochet

OK, I’ll stop (and, yes, some of these are already in use). Hey, go play.

Drive Traffic

The Business Name Generator tool is interesting since it is really a website designed to sell domains – not ad business names. The Name Generator is just a smart traffic generating hook. The website also has these other name generators: Blog Name Generator; Podcast Name; Startup Name; Product Name, etc. to target people looking for these other names. Of course, hopefully, once they find the name they’ll go buy the URL.

I love the idea of using a list, or relevant resources or some other form of bait to get people to pay attention to what you are selling.

A ‘Leadership’ Idea

No question: a clear way to own a marketing or brand category is to look and sound like the leader. The right name could do this (maybe not.) Blogs do this, kinda. Well, if you can actually break out of blog-subject-clutter and are willing to commit to single expert subjects. However, this takes a lot of time to get traction.

A suggestion… Build the go-to data-driven category directory – possibly a stand-alone website/microsite. Become positioned as a leader that is the category information resource. This acts as a nice magnet.

Consider doing what tiny Growth Supply does. This simple information website  delivers “All Free Tools For Entrepreneurs and Startups”. This directory get views — as a result, it has a very high USA Alexa ranking at 152,734 vs., for example, the New York agency Barton F. Graf at 348,470. By the way, what is your ad agency rank?

Think about your agency and a resource tool. An ad agancy brand that actually owns a category via an information resource a can rule.

What could it look like? Build a database marketing / brand category / industry directory & resource that lists:

  • The ultimate resource for news on database marketing
  • Industry news websites.
  • Industry events. Global and regional.
  • Industry awards.
  • Related ‘ marketing idea’ websites.
  • Review websites.
  • Industry research – primary and secondary.
  • Category advertising history websites.
  • And, on…

Keep it up to date with new listings. There is something new every week that a brand might find interesting.

Pay an intern to do this ‘fill in the blanks’ work.

Become THE resource… a resource that gets shared.

A brand that actually owns a category like database-marketing can be the ultimate resource.

Just food for thought.

By the way, I have a resource list – and it gets viewed and shared: The Big Advertising Agency Resource List.



Is Saying Fck (You Know What I Mean) Cool?

Can you say ‘fck’ in your B2B marketing?

(Before I start, a side note… I originally had the URL: www.peterlevitan.com/issayingfuckcool  I now know that Google does not like the word Fuck – so I took out the “U” from any Google heat seeking search missile.) We’ll see if this post gets indexed now. See at the bottom of this post for an article about Google’s no-mas potty-mouth.)

I have a client, a brilliant agency client in the data-marketing space. A real data scientist. He grows brands leveraging the best of Adobe and the Google Marketing Platform (here is how Google describes the GMP):

Google Marketing Platform brings together DoubleClick Digital Marketing and the Google Analytics 360 Suite to help you plan, buy, measure and optimize digital media and customer experiences in one place. Google Marketing Platform helps you deliver more relevant and effective marketing, while ensuring that you respect your customers’ privacy and give them control over their data.

Data marketing rules. But, he has a problem. He only aims to work with clients that really want to leverage data to grow their business. Apparently, it is difficult to find the clients that actually GET IT. That said, he gets lots of inquiries. However, many are either poor leads for many reasons (many need lots of training) or are not willing to take the multi-month plunge/commitment to work into a very successful data-driven program.


Last week we discussed the use of the word ‘fuck’ to arrest attention and to help cull out the serious leads from the explorers. In this case, can you say ‘fuck’ on your home page? Essentially, something like this (just an example)…

We Are Looking For The Best And Brightest Clients That Want To Fucking Kill It Using The World’s Best Data-Marketing.

I pointed to Gary Veynerchuck as an example of a media personality that uses ‘fuck’ a lot to, yup, help cull out the serious leads from the explorers. It is difficult to paraphrase Gary but his mantra is hey, get the fuck on board the digital train.

Find Your Active Words

This is not a long blog post on the use of challenging words. But, I do want to make that point that you might want to consider actually telling the people that visit your home page that you are looking for the right fucking clients. The use of the word might even net you the balls to the wall clients that you want.

If the ‘F’ word scares you… just try having some attitude.

Oh, the Google article:

F***=off, Google tells its staff: Any mention of nookie now banned from internal files, URLs.



The Advertising Agency Of The Future

How To Future-Proof Your Advertising Agency

The advertising agency of the future needs some serious planning and agility. No surprise here. But, what is surprising to me is the wide range of attention, or lack thereof, to the future I see in the advertising world.

Just for the hell of it. I’ll start with the good old days.

My first job in advertising was at Dancer Fitzgerald & Sample. Back in the 1980’s DFS was New York’s largest advertising agency. We were sweetly based in the iconic Chrysler Building. At that time, we did not spend lots of gray matter on thinking about the future of the advertising agency business because we were making a 15% commission on media and 16.5% on production. We had a sweet client list that included General Mills, P&G, RJR Nabisco, Sara Lee, Northwest Airlines (I ran the account and our annual profits were $6 million on $9 million in revenues), HP and Toyota. As you might expect, we were not too concerned about reinvention. All this client and revenue firepower helped Saatchi & Saatchi love and buy Dancer in 1986.

Today advertising is a radically different business and ad agencies need to be thinking about how to be positioned for a future where multi-year AOR clients; 15% media commissions; three primary media types (TV, print, radio); a positive global network effect and loyalty are attributes of the past.

Not to get too down, but today the advertising world is about project work, crazy price consciousness, competition from all sides (large consultancies, in-house agencies and your ex-Creative Director who does just fine as a freelancer).

Bummed Out?

Look, for many agencies, it is kinda fucked up out there. As the famous Chinese curse says, “May you live in interesting times”. But, but, there are still agencies that grow and make bucks. You can too.

So, in preparation for this blog post – yes, it is ultimately about how to position your agency for the future – I read a bunch of articles on “the advertising agency of the future.” Not too surprising, this is a hot topic.

Interesting (as in ‘Uh Oh’) the first page of Google has articles on your future from traditional agency killers like Deloitte, Accenture, Adobe, CMO.com (an Adobe site).

The agency industry perspective is not on Google’s page one. It isn’t until page two that Inc., AdAge, The Drum and the ANA get to chime in.

I stopped trying to find an actual advertising agency perspective delivered via this search term by the time I got to page four. Do the big guys (even WPP, Publicis, Omnicom, etc.) not want to discuss the future?

Some Findings On The Future on Advertising

Here are some of the highlights from my research. I’m listing these in random order. I’ll have my personal thoughts a bit later. Read More »

The Internet – A New Discovery

The Internet – Great Music

I’m heading to Mexico City for a few days. So, here is something to keep you busy. It’s about the Internet.

I discovered The Internet in 1994. I had been working in Saatchi’s London office. An office sans any discussion of the Internet, or better yet digital marketing platforms like CD-ROM’s (look them up if you are way young.) Luddite land.

My discovery happened when I returned to New York. I remember watching my first CD-ROM and said, ‘Whoa” what is this stuff and, yup it’s a marketing platform. This discovery got me to meet with digital guys like Ted Leonsis.

Digital Native

I love the term ‘digital native’. It describes my kids. I am not sure that they remember the days pre AOL and the birth of the graphical browser – the ever-present mobile phone. A definition…

Digital native: a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age.

Why mention this? I view myself as a digital native. While not “born or brought up during the age of digital technology”, I cannot remember the days pre-digital. OK, that’s bullshit. I do remember. Most importantly for my audience, we seem to have forgotten some of what actually makes marketing work – stuff from the old days. I’ll keep it simple… I mean having a big idea, something that resonates with your audience, something that a creative mind (not an algorithm) serves up — I know you know this. Therefore here is a creative organization that might get your creative juices flowing.

Today’s The Internet.

Heard of The Internet? Um, the band?

Here’s the band’s Come Over video. Very cool. They are simply in the groove – a modern take on R&B. What Pitchfork has to say,

The fourth album from the R&B collective is a peak example of their combined powers. It simplifies their sound with soft-focus blues, plush arrangements, and deep-in-the-ground grooves.

The video. While you are at it, check out the band’s other videos. Maybe you’ll get an idea for your ad agency videos.