Are You Ignoring Your Own Advice in Advertising?

Why Are Ad Agencies So Bad At Self Promotion?

Shout about you. Getty Images

Picture the scenario.

You are a decent-looking person with a lot going for yourself. Yet, you are single (ok, for some of us this is not hard to picture).

After trawling the usual places looking for dates (the online dating sites, the bars, the clubs) and the newer technologies (Tinder, OK Cupid, POF), you are still out of the look, and alone on a Saturday night.

So, you take the plunge and contact a matchmaker.

She meets you, takes down all your details, and within a few weeks, you are going on great dates. After a while, you find your perfect match, and decide to have a party. You invite the matchmaker, and ask her to bring her partner.

That’s when she says, “oh, I haven’t found Mr. Right just yet” and you are left scratching your head and wondering what is going on. How could she be single, she’s a dating specialist?!

This is the advertising world in a nutshell.

So many of them can give you the ad campaigns you are looking for to attract new customers and make more money.

Yet, when it comes time to advertise themselves, their well has run very dry. In fact, it seems as if they have no earthly clue about how to begin advertising themselves.

These are professionals who love this line of work. It says a lot about a business who cannot advertise itself, just like a mechanic who drives a mess of a car, or a hairstylist with a terrible haircut.

The problem cannot be summed up in one word, but the basic issue is ad agencies do not give themselves the same limitations that the client imposes upon them.

What? Limitations? How does that help?
Ad agencies do best when they are given a set of parameters, a budget, a time constraint, and a very clear creative brief.

But for self-promotion, none of these apply. As with any job you do for yourself, it is the lowest priority. Clients always come first, as they pay.

However, by relegating the self-promotion for the agency to the back of the list, you will never get good results. And without good self-promotion, you are robbing yourself of any future clients. The net result of that ​is, less money and less stability.

How To Beat The Self-Promotion Trap
If you want to out-think and out-class the competition, you need to treat self-promotion with the respect it deserves. Here is a top ten list that will ensure you get better results from your next in-house promotion project:

  1. Give the job a good creative brief. It deserves it, and it needs it. The creative brief is the foundation of a project. Without it, it crumbles.
  2. Allocate a timeline. Yes, it is self-imposed, but stick to it. If the creative department knows they can keep pushing it to the back burner, they will never take it seriously.
  3. Give the job a decent budget. You don’t have to go mad, but telling the creative department to work with pennies will give them one very clear message – the project is not very important.
  4. Open the brief up to everyone in the agency. This is not a client only a select few know about; everyone knows the agency. That means anyone could have a great idea.
  1. Do not be afraid to be original. If it doesn’t look or feel like a typical piece of self-promotion, you will stand out.
  2. Think beyond video, web and print. Why can’t you do a guerrilla execution targeting specific clients? Buy a billboard right outside their office. Create direct mail for the CEOs home. Be bold.
  3. Be brutal. Good enough is not good enough. Your self-promotion is a reflection on the kind of work you do, so kill the ideas that are good, but not great.
  4. Call in favors. You work with vendors daily, and they have things you could use. They may give them to you at cost, or for free if you remember them when the time is right.
  5. Don’t be cheesy. You can use parody, but anything that you would cringe at will make others cringe too.
  6. Remember the goal. You want more business to come from this. The priority is to get noticed and get in front of new clients. If you make it too much of an ego boost, you won’t be seen.