The most obvious value they deliver is that of creating compelling cases for moving a consumer from a place of satisfaction to dissatisfaction (i.e. the consumer is using and happy with a competitor’s product), or from a place of dissatisfaction to satisfaction (i.e. the consumer is using the competitor’s product and looking for a better solution). The effective advertising agency employs creativity, market intelligence and analysis, and optimal media to create a pull strategy that moves a consumer to take action that favors their client.
The second place that the advertising agency is effective is supporting the efforts of the push strategy of an organization’s marketing effort, namely Direct Sales. Sales, ideally, contacts and convinces consumers, resellers, distributors (buyers of some stripe) to purchase a product or service. However, sales cannot do its job well without a recognition of need (or of dissatisfaction) by the buyer. So advertising’s impact on successful direct selling is at least twofold: 1) directly, to create or to surface the awareness of a need or dissatisfaction, and 2) indirectly to support the message of the salesforce (through media message, written collateral, etc.) as the salesforce goes into the marketplace searching for business.
Typically, advertising interfaces more directly with a client’s marketing organization. The marketing department helps the ad agency to understand their issues and desires, and the ad agency creates a campaign to capitalize on the client organization’s strengths and minimize their vulnerabilities.
The client marketing department then facilitates the roll-out of the ad campaign seamlessly and Sales goes and executes flawlessly, gaining market share and destroying the competition.
The reader may now be saying "wait a minute, that’s not the way it works at my company"; and this is a major issue that must be addressed and repaired if maximum impact and ROI is to be gained from both Advertising and Direct Sales efforts.
What is the disconnect? Often it’s the traditional division of labor existing between sales and marketing within organizations. This disconnect is highlighted best by Rackham in Rethinking the Salesforce where he says that the traditional role of marketing was to create value and the traditional role of sales was to communicate value. This philosophy can (and very often does) create discord between these two incredibly important functions of an organization.
One solution is to provide a venue for sales and marketing to get on the same page from the beginning; sales being tasked primarily (not solely) with reconnoitering key intelligence from the field and reporting back, and then marketing primarily (but again along with sales) forming this critical intel into a message that each believes the prospective buyers will buy.
One creative and impactful way of making this happen is for an advertising agency to provide Sales Consultation designed to facilitate sales and marketing collaboration on particular campaigns; the stated outcome of these collaborations – a unified value creation statement (or concept).
Another dovetailing value-add for the progressive advertising agency is the ability to provide sales training focused on taking the Value Creation Statement of a company, product, or service and most effectively selling that tailored message to the market.
Marketing would love this because sales people would finally "get it", the "it" being – "sales finally is staying on message, they’re actually focused on selling what we’ve found that the consumer is asking for". Sales would likewise be overjoyed because marketing would finally "get it", the "it" being – "marketing, for the first time in my career understands the needs of the customer and has tailored a message that speaks to their issues."
In reality, there will certainly be untapped messages uncovered by the synergies of these departments, but much (maybe most) of the benefit to the client will be derived from their sales and marketing personnel partnering from soup to nuts to create value for the customer.
So where does the Ad Agency win by facilitating the meeting of the minds of these heretofore vastly different animals (sales and marketing)?
1.they win by being seen as a full-service agency that facilitates communication and collaboration between two traditionally dueling departments.
2.they win by having buy-in from both departments for the agreed upon advertising message and media – making a smooth execution of the proposed campaign more likely.
3.they win by having the entire marketing organization (now recognized as both sales and marketing) taking a level of ownership for the ROI of the marketing effort – no longer does the client say so easily that "we’ve run these ads and nothing has happened to our sales."
So, what am I proposing? I’m proposing integrating a Sales Consulting Arm into the Advertising Agencies; I’m proposing a Sales Effectiveness Division to round out the highly consultative offering of advertising. A product that broadens the reach of the ad agency into the entire marketing department (sales and marketing) where advertising needs to be; both because of field intelligence needs and because ad agencies need more control of the way their proposed campaigns are implemented.
Matt Monroe is with Monroe & Associates, a local sales consulting and sales training firm specializing in analyzing sales cycles. Monroe & Associates represents Miller- Heiman training, developers of Strategic Selling®, Conceptual Selling®, and Large Account Management Process (LAMP®), and I has a specialized sales strategy called called Special Forces Selling©. You can respond to this article, or ask Matt questions via e-mail at MattMonroe1@cs.com.