5 Undeniable Signs Your Marketing Agency Is Not Creative

dead end road sign 5 signs your marketing agency isn't creative

It may be hard to believe, but your marketing agency may not be creative. They talk about all the things they can do for you, but the pudding is proof-less.

So how do you know if your marketing company is short on creativity?

We’re looking at 5 undeniable signs that your marketing agency is not creative. In a few minutes, you’ll know whether your marketing agency has what it takes.

01. Portfolio: Good, Bad, or Just Plain Ugly

An agency’s portfolio will instantly tell you if they can handle your project. Does it show diversity? Are the works unique, or do they all look the same? These questions will help you determine the quality of an agency’s portfolio.

Don’t be fooled!

A big portfolio does not equal a good portfolio. The number one sign that an agency lacks creativity is: “Look how much stuff we’ve done!” A portfolio should be a selection of their best work. As much as it hurts to say, not everything we do should be in our portfolio. Some projects don’t finish strong enough to earn that place… which is OK. The sign of a truly creative agency is knowing which pieces to show, and which to leave in the archives.

02. Beware The Marketing Buzz Words

If a marketing company uses words – that you don’t understand – to describe what they’re going to do for you… be afraid. Be very afraid.

marketing buzz words multicolored postit notes

Some commonly used terms include:

  • Actionable Analytics
  • Omnichannel Marketing
  • Snackable Content
  • Martech
  • Disruptor

To be fair, marketing buzz words can be useful when talking to people within our industry. However, imagine a soldier coming home and continuing to use the acronyms and shorthand speak used by the military. It makes sense to those within the military, but civilians would just be confused.

A lot of marketing agencies use buzz words to hide the fact that they can’t deliver creatively. Think of it as a really bad magician, waving a hanky around distracting you from his terrible slight-of-hand skills.

03. Information Does Not Equal Successful Marketing

I can memorize a car manual front to back, but that does not qualify me to climb inside an Indy 500 race car. While information is important for strategy, it’s only half of the equation. I’ve seen clients become dazzled by “how much a company knows”, only to become frustrated when the work doesn’t support the big talk.

Just like number 2, statistics and loads of information are used to mask their inability to be creative. Knowing Google trends and percentages of organic vs paid  conversions is valuable, but there has to be a creative element, or it’s all just numbers.

04. The Status Quo Is Never Challenged

Creativity at it’s core is finding new ways of expression. A marketing agency that values creativity will continually push you to be the very best version of yourself.

McDonald’s is the number one fast-food chain in the world. If they stopped all advertising, they would likely remain #1 for years. Here’s why they keep at it: McDonald’s is more than just product sales. They’re about image. Staying relevant with clever phrasing and melody lines doesn’t necessarily sell more burgers, but it does keep them in the public eye.

Reinvention drives progress. If you’re marketing agency isn’t doing that for you, it’s time to start shopping.

05. Every Conversation Is About Budget Strategy

Having a strategy is important, but in our experience, ideas that are driven by creativity go much further than those driven by budget.

financial reports charts printout document

Here are two conversation scenarios:

A) “We’ve put together a financial breakout of dollars to be spent across various media outlets. Social media will be our main focus, followed by AdWords and traditional media buys.”

B) “Our creative team has an incredible idea that we believe will resonate with your audience and compel them to action! More than that it will create loyalty to your brand and position you as an authority in the industry.”

Which conversation would you rather have? Which excites you? Agencies lacking creativity will default to what they know best, dollars and cents. We can all agree that budget is hugely important. Just be sure your marketing agency is using your budget to support great ideas, not the other way round.

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