Several weeks ago in Ad Age Daily an article discussing “how we grow our advertising agency” caught my eye. The article discussed was how ad agencies were so inept at selling their own services. The attendant blog generated much breast-beating, mea-culpas, parsing and parting: What is selling? The different kinds of selling consultative, relationship/partnering, hard sell and persuasive. Who should do it, partners and principals, new business development specialists? Yadda yadda, etc. etc. Book lists were suggested, the dearth of training was bemoaned, but all in all, none were able to identify the best way to sell advertising services, and I could no longer remain a silent observer and posted the following:
The fundamental reason the agency I work for continues to grow is that the overwhelming majority of our clients out-perform their peers in respective markets. If the cash register isn’t ringing we get cashiered. We promise measurable results up front, if we don’t deliver, we get pushed out the back. We rely upon Mr. Measurable Results as our Director of Sales, and he does a really good job of it.
Back in the day when David Ogilvy reigned supreme (Mad Men viewers take note), the royal dictum proclaimed that the best advertising for an agency was to make great advertising for its clients. It is still true however, but somewhere along the line of succession, heresy set in. Ogilvy’s assertion to make great advertising became debased and interpreted as possessing lush, high-end production values and little else. What has been stripped of Ogilvy’s definition of great advertising are the big idea and measurable results.
For our clients, many of whom are automotive dealers groups and individual franchised dealers, the big idea for them is stick to the knitting. And by what we mean by sticking to the knitting, we don’t encourage them to do branding, or feel good spots or anything that deviates from addressing the objections and idiosyncrasies consumers exhibit when buying a car. Experience and research reveals that when one does otherwise, sales suffer. And what is the function of the big idea? The big idea is what gets you to measurable results.