When I deal with smaller building material manufacturers I find frequently find a creative firm has abused them. When I say abused, I mean they spent a lot of money and either didn’t get much or what they got, didn’t work. The result is they pull back and try to do it themselves, which puts them at a disadvantage.
Smaller building material manufacturers are usually run by the founder who is an inventor or engineer. When they start out they are full of enthusiasm, as they believe their product will change the world. The only thing in the way to conquering the world is letting people know about their product.
It’s at this point they decide to hire an advertising agency or creative firm. As they don’t know how to do this, they frequently rely on word of mouth and find a local firm. The firm comes in and wows them with a presentation and maybe even some free ideas.
The manufacturer is so excited about having his beautiful baby presented to the world that he makes up his mind to hire the agency during the presentation.
That’s when the problems start.
1. The creative firm may be very creative but it is very likely they don’t understand the building material business. They believe they are so creative that their work will cut through any need to understand the business.
2. The agency and the client make assumptions about who is the target and what message they need to communicate to make a sale.
3. The client can also be at fault when he doesn’t let the agency do their job. He frequently puts on his rationale engineer’s hat and dictates the creative direction or copy.
Hiring your first agency can also be exciting and the client can’t wait to show off their work. He takes it home and asks his wife or family’s opinion. They usually have something to add, which is usually not good.
The client gets some big bills and is not sure what he got in return so he ends the relationship. In a very controlling way he moves forward doing it himself with safe, inexpensive and ineffective marketing.
Here’s how to keep this from happening:
1. Take your time in selecting the right firm and do your due diligence. Don’t assume you have to use a local firm.
2. If you have selected the right firm, you trust them. Listen to what they recommend and give them the benefit of the doubt unless they are 180 degrees wrong.
The smaller firms who have already had a bad experience are usually doomed to always being much smaller and less successful than they should. The memory of the wasted money is just too painful for them to overcome.
It’s too bad there isn’t counseling for getting abused by an agency.
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Thanks for the following comments. I’d like to hear your feedback and suggestions on how to sell architects.
“It’s almost like you were there with me Mark! That was exactly my experience”