What Do Brands Really Want From Their Agency?

By Jason Swenk on September 7, 2020

Do you know what brands want from an agency? What do they look for when deciding to work with an agency? Are you looking for a way to stand out in a world of “me too” agencies? Often, the best way to get noticed is to embrace who you are.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • The biggest disconnect between brands and agencies.
  • #1 reason brands prefer working with niche agencies.
  • 3 ways your agency can stand out.

Today I sat down for an enlightening conversation with Robby Berthume, CEO of Bull & Beard, an agency collective based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Robby works with agencies and brands to help them come together to find the perfect fit. He’s here to discuss what brands are looking for in an agency, and what you can do to win more contracts.

The Biggest Disconnect Between Brands and Agencies

There’s a lot of disconnect between brands and agencies. While the end game is the same, typically, there is a lot of disagreement about how to get there. Robby says, one of the biggest disconnects he sees is in the area of pricing.

When a brand comes in with a set budget, agencies tend to just accept it as is. If we push back and say we need a little more or the budget is unrealistic, the brand may choose to go somewhere else. But what if you look at it from a different vantage point?

Robby says pricing can help you gain credibility and earn a brand’s respect. Sure you can tell a client you can come in at a certain price point, but you’re not doing yourself any favors. When you’re straightforward about the cost of a project and what your services are worth, you’ll earn the client’s trust.

#1 Reason Brands Prefer Working With Niche Agencies

We’ve talked about declaring a niche endlessly. I’m a strong believer in declaring a niche in order to separate your agency from generalists. And Robby says has found the clients agree. Yes, there are some brands that like to work with full-service agencies, but Robby says the split is about 80-20 in favor of niche agencies.

Think about it this way. When you hire someone, you want to know they are the best at their job. You don’t want a jack of all trades. When you build a home, you want a contractor, not a handyman. Brands invest a lot into agencies. That’s why they prefer to choose experts over generalists.

3 Ways to Your Agency Can Stand Out

There’s no getting around it — brands have a lot of choices. If you’re not careful, you can become just another “me too” agency. So what can you do to make sure you get noticed?

  • Put in the work: If you’re lazy, it’s going to show. Before you talk to a client, do your research. Audit their website, look at their pain points, and be prepared with a plan.
  • Let your personality show: By reviewing Bull & Beard’s website you’ll notice is it doesn’t look like your typical agency website. From the colors to the typeface and even word choice, everything about the site lets you know who Bull & Beard is. When you let your personality show, clients are more likely to remember you when it comes time to choose an agency.
  • Become a trusted advisor: Let’s be honest, there are a lot of agencies out there that offer the same services you do. That’s why you don’t want to sell yourself as just a doer, you want to be the expert resource. Ask questions, figure out the client’s problem, and provide a strategy for resolving it. This is your number one differentiator.

The ultimate goal is to pick and choose who you work with. But often, we work with clients who aren’t a good fit when we feel we have no other choice. When you put in the work to separate yourself and gain trust as an agency, that’s when you’ll discover you have true creative freedom.

What’s Next For Your Agency

On your journey of growing your agency as well as your relationships with brands, you will without a doubt come across other challenges — this is where I can step in.

I have advice for common agency obstacles such as recognising common agency mistakes, how to keep great agency employees in your team as well as fostering the connections made with clients. If it’s challenging growing your business, I have agency growth hacks, the best ways to improve management of your business as well as why building a remote team can be beneficial in the long run.

Learn more about my career as well as tips, tricks, and insights by checking out my blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.

You can learn more from my experience from my Ask Swenk series and my videos on my Youtube channel. Check out advice and learn even more from other successful agency experts featured on Smart Agency podcast twice every week.

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