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If you can’t beat them join them!

November 18, 2010

Industry Observations

So you are this top creative hot shop that no one has ever heard of besides the local tattoo parlor. How do you crack into the Fortune 500 brands. Unless you go out of your way to enter and win national or international awards, and do a ton of shameless self-promotion, both of which cost money the likely answer is you won’t. I know did I say No, Not, Nein, Non.

The reality of today’s marketplace is that most marketers at large brands are often too busy to sit down with you over a cup of coffee for a capabilities review. They have established relationships with agency brands they value or trust or in some cases even admirer. All these agencies have gone through the vetting process by purchasing and are on the all important “preferred” vendor list.  The other advantage these A-List players have is they provide insurance or should I say assurance.  Another way of putting this is if you go with a well known agency and they mess up you may still have a job in the morning. That’s not necessarily going to be the case with a unknown agency regardless of how creative or inexpensive they are.

OK now that I’ve emptied the glass let’s see if we can’t fill it up with water again. Just because you are a small, unknown agency doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to work on a large brand but keep in mind what it takes to get there and ask yourself if it’s worth it in the end. It will take time, lots of hard work, money and luck. You will practically give away the work on the first job and you’ll work through the weekend and maybe past midnight to impress the client. The unfortunate part here is that you won’t make that much money and the client may not appreciate the hoops you jumped through to make him/her happy.

Now if you have experienced success with well known brands and have made the investment to showcase your success to the point where it gets noticed by others, then you may have a chance at doing some good work on your terms and your pay.

An alternative approach to doing work with well known brands is to pitch the agencies that are already working on those accounts. Yes you heard me right. It’s done all the time and it’s not a bad avenue to take if you need to fill the coffers. You may not be able to take credit for the work but you do make money. And who knows you may get lucky. The client may want to work with you directly and cut out the extra costs he/she is incurring by working directly with the roster agency.

Most small agencies do great work but have a difficult time of branding themselves to the point where they have an opportunity to do great work for large brands. For those who make that commitment, good things will come to you both with large and smaller brands.

I think smaller agencies also have to have a reality check in that they may be better suited working on smaller brands where they will make good money and produce good work without killing themselves. You can still do killer creative for the local tattoo parlor or bowling alley.

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