Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

May 13, 2020


ROI is more important now yet harder to measure than ever. Because of the uncertain economic climate, time between spending and making a sale has increased for most businesses. At the same time effort and marketing activities have had to completely change course to adapt. ROI is something every business leader (you and your clients) wants to know for good reason. But unfortunately the answer is not that simple, and we are tempted to sacrifice long term health for short term reward. 


In today’s episode we break open the concept of brand value as a return on investment- how building brand equity has a real business case and is just as important (even more) as other activities that may have direct ROI attached to them. It’s important as an agency to have a deep understanding of this concept not only for your clients, but for YOURSELF. Agencies are so-called “brand building experts” yet often their own brand suffers and is perceived as a commodity. When it comes to building a business with a legacy that makes profit and LASTS, we have to find that perfect balance between number crunching and winning the hearts and minds of your customers. 


Resources Mentioned: 

  • Hubspot
  • Google Trends


Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode:

  1. The importance of ROI as a financial measurement will be more important for quick-growth, blitz-scaling companies, while companies that are looking to build for long-term growth should take brand equity into consideration just as much as ROI.
  2. It’s important to Practice what you Preach- as an agency, show clients and customers that your brand is about a deeper meaning and message than just making money. 
  3. A simple way of measuring brand awareness is tracking how many Google searches come up for any specific brand or company. That is a real-time measure of brand recognition and audience engagement. 


For more tips, discussion, and behind the scenes:


About The Guys: 

Bob Hutchins: Founder of BuzzPlant, a digital agency that he ran from from 2000 -2017. He is also the author of 3 books. More on Bob: 

Brad Ayres: Founder of Anthem Republic, an award-winning ad agency. Brad’s knowledge has led some of the biggest brands in the world. Originally from Detroit, Brad is an OG in the ad agency world and has the wisdom and scars to prove it. Currently that knowledge is being applied to his boutique agency. More on Brad:

Ken Ott: Co-Founder and Chief Growth Rebel of Metacake, an Ecommerce Growth Team for some of the world’s most influential brands with a mission to Grow Brands That Matter. Ken is also an author, speaker, and was nominated for an Emmy for his acting on the Metacake Youtube Channel (not really). More on Ken: 


Show Notes:

How do your clients define success? Is ROI a part of that equation? 

[0:] Bob: The term ROI means Return on Investment, or the value that we provide to our clients. There is often a void between what we as agency owners value as success and what the client values as success- closing that gap is what we do.

[ ] Ken: “ROI is one of those things that you can’t really control as an agency owner- really no one person can control.”

[ ] Brad: Often clients see us as their financial advisor- step 1 of that process is asking “What can I expect my return to be.” Sometimes you get clients who have a different idea of success from you, so it’s more difficult to close that gap.

[ ] Bob: The agency dilemma- what’s the goal of the company ultimately, and what’s the size of the company. Smaller company means the goals are going to be different, so the expectations of the client is going to be different. 

[ ] Brad: Startups are often quick-moving, fast-growth companies. They’re blitz scaling, and “putting the plane together while they launch it”- ultimately just looking for short term investments to get them where they need to be and create the “strong financial narrative of growth” that they need.


  • Strategies change based on that need of the company. Startups probably care more about ROI than other more established brands. 


  • Identifying what THEY see as success is #1 with any client.

[ ] Bob asks: How much of an agency's job is it to teach and push a client toward a better understanding of ROI for their business? 

[ ] Ken: “I think it’s required, even for your own well-being as an agency.”

  • You can’t always control what the product is, the price, who the audience is, etc. If you don’t educate, you’re on the hook for things that you can’t control- the client’s expectations, mostly. 
  • “You have to lead that conversation.” Oftentimes you’re being asked to do things by the client that you have no control over, so you need to educate around that. “Here’s how you should be thinking about ROI from our perspective.” 

[ ] Brad: Sometimes you get clients whose product really isn’t being marketed to the correct market. Some companies just don’t put the time or effort into establishing market fit.

  • “We see, as collectors of data, proof or evidence that the client's expectation isn’t right to begin with.” 
  • As an agency, you have to be able to say that you can’t help them any further. You can only guide some clients so far.

[ ] Bob speaks on how often the expectation is that clients don’t really understand the process. 

[ ] Brad adds that oftentimes the clients don’t understand that there are many perspectives and lenses through which to gauge growth- ROI isn’t the only marker for success. And the less educated a client is about these things, the more work there is at the front end for agencies. 

[ ] Ken adds: Agencies have to get ROI for every activity that they do- defining the return is important. Sometimes it’s not money or sales. 

  • Having a team member that understands a more holistic view of the business model is so vital- both internally as well as from clients. Until then you’re always going to have a mismatch.

[ ] Brad: Often there are specific structures within the setup of the business that are barriers to understanding and education. When part of the businesses activity takes place offline- they get bumped to a salesperson- it’s hard to measure the success of specific digital ads, etc. So it’s important to have a place (Hubspot, Salesforce) where you can measure those successes even once the process leaves a digital platform. 

  • Then you have clients who come to the table very prepared and know the digital world inside and out and there isn’t a whole lot of education that you have to provide.
  • Then there are clients who expect you to be magic and pull ROI out of thin air.

[ ] Bob speaks on the “magician” role that some clients expect. Every client, product, demographic is wildly different. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t

[ ] Ken adds: Many clients are looking for a silver bullet, a quick fix to get their name out there. But ultimately as agency owners, you’re doing that service because you know more about that than the person coming to you. This is our responsibility- do NOT feed them the silver bullet misconception. 

  • Educate the reality: “There is no silver bullet, so here’s the deal: It’s finding the right experience on your team, doing the right things consistently over time, and being really smart about those so that you build your business and get to that goal you have. That’s the first thing we ask anyone that we want to work with- what is your goal? 
  • Start with a goal. Is it specific, measurable, realistic? If it is, then how do we back out of that and develop a strategy.

[ ] Brad: speaks on the experience of marketing something that there is a lot of excitement and buzz around. “It was so easy to market that product, and it was so fun because there was so much excitement behind it.” 

  • It is a whole different experience when the company is in a market that’s slow or the brand new with no competitors, hs no brand equity, doesn't have the money to do what they need to do- and sometimes they don’t even know what they need. 

[ ] Ken responds- “So apparently it’s important for them to have a good product Well it turns out it starts with a great product, apparently. And that’s something that you can’t truly control… If you’re working with someone who says I want to get there, you ask okay how bad do you want it? Because the investment that’s required to get there may be more than they have or that they want to invest- money or time.” 

[ ] Brad: The biggest reason that businesses go out of business is due to capital. In order for you to be the magician that they request, they have to be willing to reframe their mindset.

  • Steve Jobs quote: “I create products that people don’t even realize they need.” 
  • Apple not only put out products that are incredible, but they educate people about how that product will improve their lives.

[ ] Bob asks about brand equity. Scenario, agency comes to the client with: “Well, we may not have hit all the sales goals, but look at all this brand equity that we’ve built.” 

  • Part of our job as an agency is to measure, report on brand equity, and prove that our process is a success with data & analytics. 
  • This might be important to a marketing manager that you’re working with directly, but maybe not the CFO who’s only looking at the numbers. 

[ ] Brad speaks on brand awareness vs desire to purchase. You need both to truly succeed- both are a measure of success. 

  • Brand equity doesn't happen overnight- either have a lot of money or time. 
  • Brand equity comes with a strong consumer value. 
  • Another Steve Jobs quote: “Don’t just sell us on the features of your products, but show us how your product is going to change our lives.”
  • If you don’t have those pain points, you’re never going to create an emotional connection to your brand. 
  • Everything about your brand is brand equity- you have to take everything into context. “It’s not just marketing and driving leads, it’s so much more than that.”

[ ] Bob adds: “Can you get your potential customer to see themselves in your product?”

[ ] Brad speaks on the tribe mindset of becoming a brand fan. The emotional connection to the product is just as important as the product itself. 

  • Consistency of brand awareness in every aspect of the business. 

[ ] Ken: It seems like there is a huge focus on the direct response concept of viral brands and viral products. It’s almost discounting the brand awareness method of building a business. The balance is in between the two. 

[ ] Brad: It’s an important question to ask, how much human touch does a brand actually have access to? That really impacts the way that you approach the strategy.

[ ] Ken: When you compare two business strategies- one company who wants to create a legacy that is around for years and year and years, another wants to capitalize on a craze that will only work for a year or two. 

  • In one situation, there is very little focus that goes into brand equity and the point is to take advantage of the ROI available. And in the other, brand equity is really the focus of what you’re building early on. 
  • “It’s easy to get caught up in the short term side of things… so you really need to define ROI for yourself, and find the balance. If you want to create a brand that will gain success longterm, you do have to measure both the ROI and brand equity.”

[ ] Bob: “Our job is to measure it and deliver those analytics back to them. How do you guys measure that?”

[ ] Brad shares his for a digital business:

  1. Are we creating awareness?
  2. Are we getting people excited about the idea of the product? 
  3. Are we driving through an appropriate funnel?

[ ] Brad expands: The next step is understanding which messages are driving users deeper into the funnel. UI issues, abandoned cart rates, fallout rates, etc. 

[ ] Ken shares: On the brand awareness side you’re working on creating emotions in people. How you measure that could be things like engagement on ads, etc. 

[ ] Brad: “You have to understand that your lens is different from your customer, as much empathy as you want to have for them…”

[ ] Bob speaks about a method of measuring brand equity/brand awareness- just keeping track of how many Google searches come up in a month, 2 months, 3 months. If there is an increase, that is evidence of brand awareness increasing. 

[ ] Ken adds that Google Trends is another way to gain a view of brand awareness. 

  • Keywords, phrases that are bringing people to your site can be used to create narratives to further increase that interest.

[ ] Ken highlight 1 Takeaway: Practice what you preach- agencies tend to not do this for themselves, tend to not push to build a brand with awareness and emotion. 

  • How, as an agency, can you build a story that is beyond the services you provide? 

[ ] Brad adds: We can help clients refine their product as well, based on this brand equity mindset. We see the front lines, so they need to be listening to our perspective. 

  • “You have to decide with your own agency which clients are the right fit for you.”