If you look at any number of marketing agency websites, you’ll begin to see a long list of buzzwords that agencies all over the world use to impress and convince leads that they are good at what they do.
Unfortunately, this widespread use of similar phrases among agencies has resulted in a “lack of differentiation”, according to Marketing Weekly columnist Mark Ritson. In his article, “Today’s agencies are like yachts – underused, expensive and all the same”, he writes that “most of these agencies now all offer the same thing.”
It seems all marketing agencies these days are determined to remain in an endless cycle of the same words, the same behavior, and remarkably similar ways of being “different”.
While there are definitely some unique, highly talented agencies, there are so many “soundalikes” that eventually, it’s hard to tell the difference between them. After all, it’s the truly unique agencies that all of the “wannabes” imitate in their branding, language, and designs.
At AMARQUEZ, we decided to break agency stereotypes and ditch meaningless jargon, overused phrases, and other typical behaviors so we could stand out and attract clients who value real results over fluffy pomp.
Ever heard this before?
“We’re not an agency. We’re a family.”
“Other agencies build ads. We tell stories.”
“Our team is just a bunch of fun-loving kids having fun in a paint shop in Maui, who also love to drink coffee, ride the waves, and win prestigious marketing awards.”
There’s nothing wrong with having some personality in your branding and website copy.
There’s also nothing wrong with using jargon or industry-insider terms as you talk with your peers and colleagues.
But, often, agencies will sacrifice clear messaging for clever messaging. Or, they’ll confuse their clients with terms and acronyms (and boy, does the marketing world LOVE acronyms…).
For example, land on the homepage of any marketing agency and you’ll no doubt need a couple of minutes to figure out why they’re different from the last agency website you just saw.
It’s the same tired and worn-out phrases that are awkward at best and confusing at worst.
If you’re interested, Ben Potter put together a list of clichéd marketing phrases that are bound to be on the next agency website you visit.
At AMARQUEZ, we cut through all of the meaningless words and communicate clearly with our clients and partners.
In other words, we tell our clients, in normal, everyday language what we do: design, develop, and support websites that are built to improve marketing campaign results.
Have we lost leads because of this?
Of course! There’s always someone who prefers their marketing agencies a little on the BS-y side of the spectrum.
(By the way, if you are interested in a BS agency, here’s a great guide on how to talk to a BS agency.)
At AMARQUEZ, though, we do our best to break down marketing strategies into clear, concise terms so our clients are able to understand what we do.
It keeps us accountable. It keeps us on our toes. It keeps us humble.
We get a lot of people who’ve been burned by marketing agencies who made big promises before launching a website, then went missing once the website was launched.
Often, web design and marketing agencies will send proposals that charge thousands of dollars for a website. With fluffy words and a whole lot of posturing, these agencies get business owners to sign on the dotted line.
After months and months of wizardry and countless meetings, the website is launched and then….
Well, that’s actually where it stops.
Most agencies only focus on website design, neglecting to understand that a successful website isn’t about what looks good. It’s about a website that brings leads and actually grows business.
At AMARQUEZ, we design, develop, AND support websites for our clients so they get real results from their website.
Our websites do more than look good.
They get results.
You don’t know what a SERP is?
How about a NAP citation?
Most agencies treat their clients as dummies when they fail to grasp “simple” marketing concepts.
Instead, we recognize that our clients have built successful companies, law practices, and medical clinics because they are experts at what they do.
We know marketing, they know their industry.
For this reason, we treat our clients as partners, combining their expertise in their industry with our experience in marketing and design.
For example, while we do our own heavy-lifting by researching keywords, we also understand the immense value of just asking our clients, “What do you do?”.
It’s become a refrain for most marketing companies.
“Come to us and we’ll do everything”, their website screams. Of course, it’s not said in such plain language (remember the jargon we talked about?).
The problem with offering so much under one roof is a lack of differentiation.
Full-service agencies struggle to differentiate themselves from the full-service agencies down the street because...well, how can they?
They do everything. Their competitors do everything.
That leaves them really only a couple of ways to compete: price and awards.
Most of the time, agencies will either choose the “be cheapest” or “be the premium option”.
Choose an agency who’s trying to undercut competitors and you’ll realize that their quality is also the lowest among their competitors.
Want to hire a premium or boutique agency? You’ll likely pay inflated fees for outside of the provided services. Boutique agencies are infamous for hyping up average-quality services so they can charge boutique fees.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with charging for services based on value. But it’s not YOUR perceived value that you base your fees on - it’s your customer’s.
Our agency has a reasonable pricing structure that’s recurring, allowing us to deliver our services through smarter processes and more affordable pricing for our clients.
In an Forbes article entitled, The Real Story Behind The Millions Agencies Spend To Win Creative Awards, Dan Avi, CEO of Avidan Strategies, points out that many marketing awards can be misleading:
…[A]ccolades and awards can be highly misleading. Because it is so expensive to enter these award shows, and because the big networks carpet bomb the award shows with entry applications, the benefit is disproportionate, and misleadingly, to those with the deepest pockets. That makes awards as arbiters of creative excellence even more questionable.Dan Avi, The Real Story Behind The Millions Agencies Spend To Win Creative Awards
Dan also shares an insider secret:
Award shows are quite a joke outside of the advertising industry itself.Dan Avi, The Real Story Behind The Millions Agencies Spend To Win Creative Awards
Most marketing awards are pay-to-play. They aren’t necessarily based on talent or results achieved, but on who’s willing to pay the most to, well, look like they know what they’re doing.
Often, marketing agencies hire companies who offer “awards preparation” services, including award application letter writing services and more.
The marketing world is bent on “proving themselves” with awards that they neglect to consider one thing:
Clients don’t care about awards. They care about results.
That’s one of the reasons why our web design agency doesn’t display many flashy awards seen on other agency websites.
Why would we pay thousands of dollars for a badge? We prefer to deliver top-quality services that earn glowing reviews from our clients.
Frankly, we could care less about Cannes or similar award shows that value pomp over practical success.
There is one award that we were very proud to receive though: the 2020 National Excellence award from UpCity.
Because UpCity’s awards are based on reviews (i.e. what customers actually say and think about you and the services you provide for them).
At the end of the day, isn’t that all that should matter to agency owners?
It’s official: the “agency model” is dead.
Truth be told, it was quite dead from the start.
Because there are about 30 or so levels of management that each decision has to go through, old agencies move slow. Like, really slow.
Sometimes, hierarchy is needful and actually appropriate. Other times, it's wasteful.
In marketing, it’s just a way to demand more in a proposal.
The more “experts” and “managers” that are involved in a project, the more fees can be charged.
In fact, higher fees are vital. Not to do more for the client, mind you, but to support the massive payroll that marketing agencies incur from being "full service" and helping everyone with everything.
We’ve had many clients come from traditional agencies and, sadly, they treat our excellent service, affordable prices, and prompt turnaround times as something novel.
It’s a rare combination, sure, but it’s not an accident.
When we started in 2011, we made all the typical agency mistakes:
We operated on proposals and did everything for anyone.
But, we realized that clients needed more than a website, they needed website support.
We could give them all the training videos and advice on keeping their website up, but - at the end of the day - they just didn’t have the time to do it.
They were running their own company, after all.
So we switched our focus (yes, I avoided “pivot” on purpose).
We focused on what we LOVED to do: websites.
Specifically, we focused on building the best websites possible, then providing ongoing support so we could make sure our clients got the best results with their new website.
Then, we switched from proposal engagements to monthly pricing, similar to the popular subscription model.
Proposals require too much initial investment of business owners. They’re risky. As marketers, should we honestly expect clients to pay thousands of dollars before we do anything for them? Yeah, we didn’t think so either.
So, we switched to a pricing model that helped us deliver our website services at a price that businesses could afford. In other words, our clients now get “agency-grade” quality at small business prices.
Oh, and we ditch silly “agency hostage” situations where web design agencies build crappy sites, then refuse to give their clients admin access when they leave.
When our clients get a site from us, they really do get a site. Not a hostage situation.
Our kind of marketing agency isn’t that novel. It’s just the result of evolution.
We constantly strive to evolve and adapt so our clients always get high-quality websites that get great results for them.
To help us stay nimble and capable of rapid evolution, we keep our team small.
Instead of building bloated teams, we keep our team small and agile.
People don’t equal productivity. Processes equal productivity.
Getting things done means mapping out processes that improve the desired outcomes.
Smarter processes mean that we get better outcomes. Or, they help us achieve desired outcomes consistently, rather than every other project.
It’s not that we don’t plan or strategize. In fact, we do a TON of planning.
We just channeled all of our experience into repeatable processes that produced solid results for our clients.
And we don’t stop growing.
Each year, we spend hundreds on training, courses, and learning materials that help us keep our edge in the always-evolving world of marketing.
We just don’t let theory get in the way of doing.
We just do. And we do quite well.