Where Do Advertising Agency Clients Search? Could Be Agency Spotter


Where do advertising agency clients go to search for new agencies?

To answer this critical question, you have to think like a client. However, putting yourself in the shoes of a client looking for that new shiny advertising, digital, etc. agency is not easy. Some client prospects are sophisticated buyers, more are not. Some have selected agencies before. Most have not.

I’ve written at length about how prospective clients find advertising, digital and PR agencies. You can read a bit here… “Ten Ways To Advertise Your Advertising Agency”.

But let’s keep it simple. There are essentially two primary methods of being found that you can manage…

  1. You work to let prospective clients know that your agency exists (direct account-based marketing; advertising; press; awards shows, ah, yes, actively managing referrals, etc.)
  2. You are visible where and when the client is looking (Google position; inbound-directed content marketing; agency and agency key employee LinkedIn profiles; agency directories; ad club lists, etc..)

Sure, there is a bit of a Homer Simpson ‘doi’ factor here. But, believe me, many agencies do not take advantage of every awareness opportunity that avails. A side story. When I moved back from Saatchi London to run North American business development I asked a competitive NYC agency principle, his name was on the door, what worked. He said’ “I have no clue what is the most effective business development strategy, so we do everything.”

More history. Fifteen years ago, I found out that my Portland agency’s previous owner had placed ads for us in the Yellow Pages (!) by the agency getting a Yellow Pages driven-lead from the USA’s largest saltwater boat company – we won the account. Who could have predicted that the boat company’s CEO used the Yellow Pages to search for an agency? Learning  = be everywhere that makes sense. OK, I’d pass on today’s Yellow Pages (I think).

Agency Spotter

The agency search website Agency Spotter is a very active agency awareness resource.

Agency Spotter was launched in 2013 to help marketers find the right marketing communications agency. Believe me, in my role as an ad agency client, 1995 to 2002, finding the right agency and making this critical engagement decision was not easy. I had run business development at the world’s largest agency but even with that personal experience, it was a tough process for me to find and select the right agency.

Here’s Agency Spotter’s mantra.

Agency Spotter is reinventing how brands find and work with creative agencies, design firms and marketing service providers.

For every business, finding marketing agencies takes significant time and is full of risk. Agency Spotter’s aim is to help change that. Our digital platform makes it much faster and free to find great agencies and design firms that fit the needs of brands and provides more information to help them make confident decisions.

Whether you are a subject matter expert looking for a small niche agency to inject some innovation in a specific area of your business or you’re a marketing leader searching for a digital agency of record, Agency Spotter makes it easy for agencies and brands to find one another and work smarter together.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Agency Spotter’s founder and leader Brian Regienczuk about the service and its 2019 Marketing Trends Report. A survey of marketers.

The 2019 Marketing Trends Report

You can download the 2019 Marketing Trends Report here. There is some very good news.

  • 57% of CEO’s and 63% of CMO’s expect to increase their 2019 marketing budgets.
  • Marketers still dig advertising. “Advertising” is Agency Spotter’s most searched service.
  • Today’s pool of decision makers is much more diverse. I find it interesting that 42.2% are 25 to 34 in age. Clearly, a high concentration of digital natives.
  • If you are a woman-owned agency, you are in good shape. There were 74% more searches for ‘woman-owned’ agencies year over year.

OK, got to go here. There is some bad news for your advertising, digital and PR agency on Agency Spotter. You are in a highly competitive environment.

A search of the agencies listed on Agency Spotter turned up 2,302 advertising; 660 PR; 1,124 digital strategy and 696 social media agencies. And, there are even more sub-categories. This is bad news if your agency is not listed (a basic listing is free). As you might expect, if you pay more and you get more awareness goodies. Read More »

Advertising Agency Searches and New Business Pitches: An Interview With Darren Wooley

Australia’s Darren Woolley On The Art And Science Of Advertising Agency Searches and New Business Pitches.

TP3_DWoolleyWith thousands of advertising, design, digital and PR agencies to choose from, prospective clients need a little help in making their selection. One way is for agencies to ‘advertise’. That means getting your agency awareness up. I discuss a how-to here:  10 Ways To Advertisinse Your Agency.

Another smart way to gain attention is to be on the radar of agency search consultants. Not all, just the right ones.

Whether or not your agency will ever be included in a search run by an agency search consultant, experienced search experts can help us all better understand elements of the search process and how clients select agencies.

To get an expert opinion on how search consultants work, I turned to international search consultant Darren Woolley of Australia’s leading search firm TrinityP3. This interview is one of 14 expert interviews from my book “The Levitan Pitch. Buy This Book. Win More Pitches.”

Darren Woolley, Founder and Managing Director, TrinityP3 

TrinityP3 is an independent strategic marketing management consultancy based in Melbourne, Australia. It works across continents and has 40 of Australia’s top 100 advertisers using its services. The company assists marketers, advertisers, and procurement with agency search & selection, agency engagement & alignment, and agency monitoring & benchmarking to ensure maximum performance in efficiency and effectiveness of their advertising and marketing budgets. 

Darren started as a scientist, got into advertising as a copywriter, and ended up a creative director. After 15 years in advertising, he realized when marketers and their agencies work well together, amazing things happen. He established TrinityP3 in 2000 as an independent marketing management consulting company that provides marketers and advertisers with benchmarks, training, and advice on how to maximize the value of their marketing budgets. 

PL: What are the primary benefits that you offer your clients?  Read More »

Video And An Advertising Agency Sales Pitch

I’m in L.A. doing some work with agencies and a local micro-photo-series for my global The People project. While waiting to get started shooting on Venice Beach, I hit up the Social Media Marketing podcast – one of my long-term get-smarter podcasts. I landed on a really good one. I highly recommend that you listen to “How to Create Video Ad Funnels That Work.” 

I guarantee that the learning here could be applied to both your clients and your agency’s own sales program. Video rules – if done correctly. Here’s the podcast pitch from the host Michael Stelzner:

Thinking about creating more video ads? Wondering how to produce more effective social media video ads?

To explore how to create video ad funnels that work, I interview video ads expert Travis Chambers. His company, Chamber Media, specializes in creating scalable social video ads for clients such as Turkish Airlines, NordicTrack, and Yahoo.

I urge you to check it out. Especially if you want to learn from an ‘advertising agency’ that has separated itself from the mega-pack of zillions other advertising agencies.

But wait, there’s more…

The Chamber Media Website

The more is that I want to quickly highlight Chamber Media’s website.

They do a few things very right.

  • They have an unambiguous agency positioning that meets a clear market need.
  • I dig their concise opening sales pitch and so would potential clients: DRIVE MILLIONS IN PROFITABLE SALES WITH SCALABLE SOCIAL VIDEO ADS. They deliver the right words: millions, profitable sales, scalable and video ads.
  • They immediately go for the ask. The home page Work With Us button and the We’re Excited To Chat (as in friendly) contact page is aimed at driving leads. Chamber might ask a bit too many questions, but these are not required and helps the agency weed out low-spend low-value clients.
  • The Home Page goes right to strong cases and (!!!) results + ROI. ROI is in… pretty pictures, kinda, out.
  • They say what they do, list their clients, testimonials and show some very good press. How could you not say, “Yup, these guys are for real?”

It’s About Sales Baby

Way too many advertising agency websites do not sell. If you need some sales inspiration, head over to Chamber Media.


A personal note: I am just getting started on my The People photo project. My goal is to shoot more portraits of more people on more continents than any other photographer. I will discuss this in detail in a future post. So far, I have over 300 portraits all shot with the same look = outside against a portable white background. I’ve now shot in China, Mexico, Selma, and L.A. Here are two from this week’s Venice Beach series. I think I’ll head back to Mexico with over 60 new portraits.


10 Ways To Advertise Your Advertising Agency

Do you advertise your advertising agency?

Based on my industry experience, most do not. This means that agencies are not aiming and tailoring their primary sales messages to their target audiences.

This post offers 10 ways to advertise your advertising agency as well as the why you should to it, like, yesterday.

Caveat: You should seriously consider advertising your advertising agency. However, you should first run a smart, consistent account-based marketing program to directly drive agency awareness to your best prospects.

Advertising – A Definition

Just for the heck of it, and to get us all on the same page, here is a definition of advertising. I use ‘advertising’ as a universal term for marketing communications companies.

Advertising is a means of communication with the users (or, non-users) of a product or service. Advertisements are messages paid for by those who send them and are intended to inform or influence people who receive them, as defined by the Advertising Association of the UK.

Why An Advertising Agency Should Advertise

There are four reasons an agency should advertise.

  1. You want to be where prospective clients look for agencies.
  2. You want to put your agency right in front of the right prospects (and even busy agency search consultants like Laura Bajkowski) 24/7.
  3. You want to borrow the interest that on and offline publications can deliver.
  4. You want to prove that you believe in advertising and that you are super creative.

10 Advertising Platforms Your Agency Should Consider

WARNING: Most likely, your agency cannot create and run efforts on all of these platforms. Roll them out based on your marketing plan.

TEST: Test everything. Do more of what works and less of what does not. Yeah, I’m being very obvious. But, testing is the mantra. Your clients want ROI. You do too and running your own programs may make you a better judge of how to judge success across advertising channels.

In addition to listing the ad platforms, I am also giving some, not all, of the reasons that a local/regional agency and an expert agency (example, lead gen B2B agency) should choose the platform. This is meant as food for thought. There are too many types of agencies for me to give every iteration. But, you get it.

Update: It is five hours after I wrote this. I now have number 11. It’s at the bottom of the list.

1. Google AdWords.

Every client in need of a new agency searches on Google. If you are not on page one for the search, buy the position.

Do keyword research and buy the keywords that meet your reach objectives.

Local/regional agency. It would be insane to not try to be on Google’s page one for your location. Example: if you are based in Seattle, buy ‘Seattle advertising agency’ or ‘Seattle SEO agency.’

Expert. Buy ‘Lead generation agency’ or ‘high tech leads agency.’ Do you want Purina as a client? Think about what their marketing team searches on.

2. YouTube.

I have an agency client that produces an interview with marketing leaders every month. They blast them out in emails, on their blog and… yup, leverage the power of the number two search engine to aim their videos at their audience. The agency also retargets. Since there are fewer results on YouTube than on Google, the agency gets more attention (and, yup, these videos also turn high up in Google searches.)

It would real easy for a local agency, most are, to ‘own’ their town’s video world. How about a weekly where to eat in Kansas City series shot on an iPhone?

Need inspiration? Here is john st.’s rather viral video (as of writing it has 2,447,266 views) about the power of Catvertising. Frankly, has any other agency ever had over 2 million views?

3. Advertising Agency Directories.

This is a serious no-brainer that many agencies do not take advantage of. In many cases, an agency directory is on Google’s page one and lists your competitors.

Make sure you are every relevant agency directory and spend the cash if it nets you a higher position or allows you to deliver more information (i.e. your work) and, especially, a link back to your website. Read More »

Top Advertising And Design Awards

A List Of The Top Advertising Awards & Why Winning Should Be Part Of Your Business Development Program

Note: This award list gets updated. Let me know if I am missing anything.

Note, Note: While your ad agency tries hard to drive traffic to its website, the secret (OK, it isn’t a secret) is to use the right keywords to arrest Google attention. Example: This post about ad advertising awards, you know you want them, has gotten over 1,400 views in the past quarter.


Winning the right advertising awards is good for business and agency and client morale. Just make sure you know why you are entering. Too many agencies don’t approach the award process with a plan or objectives beyond the search for ego fulfillment. This can make the whole effort a bit too C R A Z Y. But, you know that. Or, do you? Go here to hear an advertising award judge on his less than optimal experience reading agency entries.

I have a memory about the power of awards from my first day at Saatchi & Saatchi London way back in the 1990’s. I walked through the creative floor and noticed a tall glass case randomly stuffed with lots of creative trophies. This haphazard display delivered two messages: 1) Saatchi wins lots of awards and 2) they don’t take these too seriously. Of course, the second point was bull shit. Saatchi was always about looking like a winner and the award case proved that point in a cheeky manner. It worked better than the usual and obvious shelf of awards that sit behind the ad agency receptionist’s head.

Why Enter Award Shows?

I have always had mixed feelings about advertising awards. On one hand, they are, like winning an Academy Award, i.e. ridiculous. No one ad, digital program or actor is the “best.” On the other hand (the one with the wallet), they are way expensive. As an agency owner, I often cringed when a creative director came to me with his hand out asking us to spend hundreds on award entries.

However money aside, advertising awards perform some very big advantages for agencies, clients, and creative-class workers:

The awards celebrate creativity itself. Creative strategies, art, copy and the media platforms that deliver the work.

They help our most talented people get noticed.

They help smart well-designed agencies get noticed by occasionally confused clients who need second party confirmation when selecting an agency. To me, this is a very important point and one that makes writing those increasingly expensive entry checks worth the cost. Awards should be a big part of an agency’s business development program – not just an ego stroker.

To put all of this go-for-it into context, I wrote about the Portland agency Pollinate a few years back that has done very well (!) by hammering Advertising Age’s Small Agency awards show. The blog post, “How To Win The Ad Age Small Agency Award? Twice?” is a demonstration of the value of entering and winning an award that has meaning for prospective clients because it is delivered via an industry-leading publication. Check it out.

Last point before the list. Award judges have told me that around 30% of agencies do not know how to create an entry that is designed to win. Poor copy, poor strategy, even typos. Many agencies rush through the process at the very last minute. Do you? Do you have an annual award plan? Who is in charge?

My 11 Favorite Advertising & Marketing Awards

I did not list every award. Just the ones that I know can launch careers and help grow agencies. That said, there is a subset of awards that I highly recommend agencies consider. These are the awards handed out by client category organizations. An example is when my own Oregon agency won the best bank advertising award from the American Bankers Association. As you might expect, we leveraged the heck out of that one across the world of potential financial services clients. Yup, we grew our national financial roster. Prospective clients need that third-party stamp of approval.

ADDY Awards. This is the largest award program with over 5 million entries – local agencies love this one because it can level the playing field vs. the mega shops. Competition includes three levels of judging: local, regional, and national. Winning an ADDY at each level qualifies the work to progress to the next higher level. Read More »