Omar El Sabh, Founder and Managing Director of ripplemark, writes a three-part guide to the type of agency that your company needs. In this article, he highlights common industry misconceptions and insights on picking the right agency.
After six years as digital marketing agency in Egypt, I have learned some lessons which I now consider golden truths and would like to share them to improve our ecosystem. From a purely subjective standpoint (i.e. not validated by data) there seems to be a lack of understanding among SMEs and large companies alike of what constitutes a service in the huge landscape that can be largely summed up as advertising and marketing. It gets even messier when we add the coveted term “digital” to the mix. Many clients don’t know what types of agency services they need and might think that social media or buying media on Facebook and Google is a cure to their bottom line’s improvement.
Before I begin to break down the type of company you are, what services you should typically be looking at and what agency in Egypt can give you the biggest bang for your buck, it’s important to mention that client education and awareness are crucial for a healthy and vibrant services ecosystem.
This opinion piece will attempt to deconstruct things as simply as possible, encouraging you along the way to do your own research of course. First, I want to address some common misconceptions that people have about three distinct services.
Branding, advertising and marketing are not the same
We often receive messages like this: “Hi do you do social media and advertising? Do you also do printing?” These kinds of questions are frustrating because they indicate that the client does not understand what digital marketing is as opposed to advertising or branding. Going to an agency that does branding, advertising and marketing is like going to an E.N.T thinking they’re also an ophthalmologist and a neurologist; it just doesn’t work and clients need to be aware of that fact.
Digital marketing is not social media
You’d be surprised how many clients and business owners think digital marketing is managing a Facebook and Instagram account.
A company that does market research is concerned with collecting primary data (surveys, focus groups, shelf awareness data, etc.), this service is very costly and usually, small businesses can’t afford it. On the other hand, marketing strategy, as in creating a roadmap for how you will operate to achieve your objectives through marketing or brand marketing is part and parcel of any agency offering any marketing (i.e. price, product, place, promotion) or brand marketing service (i.e. brand positioning, brand attributes, tone of voice, etc.)
The term “digital”
Saying “Digital” when seeking services isn’t helping anyone. This can’t be said enough, “digital” doesn’t mean squat, “I want to be on digital” or “yes we need more digital services;” as opposed to analog services?
It would be a good exercise to go through what each and every service in the field means on a theoretical basis but empowering clients is the goal of this blog post. The focus here is to build a guide for the type of service clients need based on the nature of their organization. For a good concise, non-jargon-filled definition of advertising, digital marketing, personal selling, promotion, publicity, PR, etc. check out the renowned “circus is coming to town” analogy by P.T Barnum and its updated version by renowned Professor Denny McCorkle to fit the digital age.
Before we delve into how you can find the right agency in Egypt for your company, we’ll answer an age-old questions we hear all the time:
“Why is this agency expensive?”
Or, “Why are these services so expensive?” or “Can’t I just go get these from a cheaper agency?”
Of course, you can find agencies left and right slashing prices or offering you a reduced retainer or decreased percentage of media spend but the surest way to understand why an agency is expensive or not is to look at its people, culture, and experience. This is not about big agencies here such as OMD, Starcom, JWT or BBDO, etc, rather the majority of local agencies you find in any country that put effort into certifying and educating their workforce. Take a look at their website, their reviews on Google and Facebook, do they practice thought leadership? What clients have they worked on? and lastly the most important aspect to consider is this; ‘am I working with people who will kill to learn whatever it is they don’t know to innovate for my business?’
In a field that advances miles per minute, you don’t want to work with people who don’t know how to learn new things, especially in this day and age of automation and technology. More importantly, should you outsource your marketing in the first place? Be that as it may, understanding where you stand in the ocean of services your company needs is crucial.
How to pick the right agency in Egypt
Finding the right marketing or advertising agency in Egypt may seem chaotic but with the correct awareness, we can reduce mismatch and save money and time for both clients and agencies.
An important term we’ll use throughout this article is the concept of a conversion. A conversion is what you define as the most important or a set of important actions that your audience takes to either become aware of your product or service or to be a customer or client of your business. When we say conversion in the agency world we mean “the action that must be taken,” be it a sale, a lead, a download, a number of visits to your site, message sent to your social profile, etc.
Equally important to a baseline understanding of branding, marketing and advertising is the concept of user journey or customer journey. Each type of company or type of marketing has its own user journey in mind. A user journey delineates the logic of the time it takes to adopt a product or service by its main target audience. In that regard, buying a chocolate bar doesn’t take as much consideration as buying a fridge, or insurance services, or paying for that premium feature on an app. In order to build proper customer journeys, the corresponding marketing funnel must be in place. This should outline the steps from becoming aware of the product to buying it and even recommending it to others. Knowing your customer journey and marketing funnel is crucial to pick the right team that will work with you.
Different companies require different services
The type of company dictates the type of service you need. We created this diagram to help simplify the process of indexing clients.
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