The dog-and-pony show: Startups’ frustrations working with agencies
Startups are undeniably cool now, so it’s no surprise agencies are often touting their work with up-and-comers.
Those partnerships sound fruitful for both sides in theory: Startups can access agencies’ clients and their marketing experience, while agencies can keep abreast of the hottest marketing trends. But in reality, agencies too often over-promise and under-deliver – and the stop-and-start nature of the agency world can be maddening to time- and resource-strapped startups.
“One of the biggest frustrations I’ve seen between startups and agencies is rooted in the repeated dog-and-pony shows,” said one entrepreneur. “Agencies love to bring startups in, have them pitch their wares, and often do so repeatedly for their internal teams and for their clients — all with little apparent ROI for the startup.”
Most of those “dog-and-pony shows” are just exploratory and educational for agencies, in the form of both phone calls and presentations to small groups, he explained. And it often takes a long time for a deal to materialize due to the educational process and the fact that many big brands don’t move fast — their budgets are planned well in advance.
“It’s truly a sales process, and agencies are part of it,” said the entrepreneur. “Startups just need to be persistent and remain patient. If you’re good at what you do, are offering something valuable, and stay engaged, it can pay off in big ways.”
It can, but agencies have a very different business model. A meeting that goes nowhere for a startup is an opportunity cost, but for an agency it’s just more billable hours.
Chico Tirado, co-founder and chief revenue officer for influencer marketing startup Gnack, added that agencies are always under pressure to perform due to their clients’ requests (which are sometimes very sudden). This sometimes means “vetting a lot of service providers and not actually working with them.”
Clients can also simply kill projects. After all, the old joke is that clients want something that’s never been done before but with guaranteed ROI.
“Many of our agency partners go very far down the road of what would normally be a full campaign, only to lose the pitch, or have the advertiser client pull the best ideas and then execute in-house,” said Dave McIninch, chief revenue officer of performance marketing startup Acquisio. “This is part of the reason why agencies are guarded about showing a technology as a standalone to their clients — the ROI for the agency isn’t there.”
Another reason why agencies are slow in introducing startups to brand advertisers is that they often want to present a polished plan to their brand clients, so introducing a startup that is inexperienced in presenting could reflect poorly on the agency. Additionally, agencies sometimes like to use startups as a “surprise and delight” later on in the process, benefiting the agency but not the startup as minimal budget exists after a certain point in the planning phase, said Ben Kosinski, director of the Collaboratory at agency iCrossing.
“I think agencies need to understand that time is a constraint — a startup cannot wait for four months for an idea to come to fruition,” said Kosinski. “Agencies need a person who understands the startup community as a liaison.”
‘There’s more opportunity’: Publishers on TikTok are taking branded content into their own hands
As their audiences on the social app have grown, a flurry of publishers have turned to developing branded content campaigns to explore new commercial opportunities.
Member Exclusive‘A more hopeful future’: As the coronavirus surges, advertisers aren’t pressing pause
Spending has remained consistent, according to media buyers, who say that advertisers are more prepared this time around.
‘Time to test multiple offers’: Why Black Friday and Cyber Monday advertising is coming earlier than ever this year
The accelerated shift of consumer shopping to e-commerce and the expected surge of online holiday retail, has led to earlier Black Friday and Cyber Monday advertising.
SponsoredA buyer’s guide to new CTV terminology
by Austin Scott, Head of EMEA Video Market Development at Xandr There has been a seismic shift in the way audiences consume content. The average U.S. home owns 11 connected devices. More than 40 percent of consumers use connected TV (CTV) devices to stream content daily, and 77 percent of households are considered CTV households. […]
‘Logistical issues’: Confessions of a production exec on how coronavirus safety has changed her job
We hear from a producer who handles bids about how the coronavirus has changed her job and why the increasing positivity rate could once again make it difficult and frightening.
Big-box retailers are changing their marketing messages to avoid a Black Friday crunch
In advertising Black Friday deals, retailers are giving more details about how long deals will last where customers get info about what new deals will be available when.