• Soumya Nair

How To Milk A Marketing Agency... They Will Love You For It!

Updated: 6 days ago

P.T Barnum, an American showman in the early 19th century, once said, “Advertising is to a genuine article what manure is to land - it largely increases the product.”

He understood not only the importance of Marketing and PR but also the importance of outsourcing that function to experts. And that was back in the 19th century —go figure.


In addition to taking out ad space in local papers, renting billboards, and distributing pamphlets announcing the coming spectacle, he also hired a marketing team. These agents would give local news reporters special access to the travelling circus in exchange for running press coverage about the circus.


In fact, P.T Barnum, considered the King of Advertising, is largely responsible for the creation of marketing agencies as we know them today. His agency helped raise awareness, delight customers, and to create and live a remarkable story. A strategy that isn’t just viable but essential in today’s marketplace.


“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.”


The most successful companies do not shy away from using external marketing sources to support their marketing efforts:


  • Apple partnered with TWBA/Chiat/Day for PR and marketing way back when Apple was going through a difficult phase and wanted to re-enter the market with a bang. They chose a talented agency that helped Apple rise to its pinnacle. The “Think Different” campaign tripled Apple stocks in 12 months, with no new products being launched. The following year, Apple launched its multicoloured iMac, which became one of its best-selling products in history. Obviously, success cannot be attributed to marketing in its entirety; it needed great products, but the story had to be built and shared correctly.


  • Red Bull is a publishing empire that also happens to sell beverages. For Red Bull, marketing isn’t just a department; it’s the very core essence of the brand itself. Red Bull chose Cuker for PR, marketing, and campaign activation across social media, the website, and the digital world. Red Bull wanted a marketing agency that would break all barriers and make their content reach the target audience, the young and adventurous.

  • Amazon the e-commerce giant, has partnered with over 28 different marketing agencies that offer a wide range of services focussing on advertising, SEO, digital marketing, web analytics, seller consulting, account management, and more to cater to nearly 150 million users.

  • Nike is where their customers are - the Nike philosophy made their marketing campaigns a huge success. Nike used sponsorship marketing to target their audience and successfully became the most recognizable shoe brand worldwide. Nike's triumvirate of advertising agencies, consisting of Wieden + Kennedy, AKQA, and Mindshare, has made Nike what it is today, a brand dedicated to sports, the best athletes in the world, and health. Their campaign “write the future” made Nike the brand winner at the 2010 world cup, standing out against the official sponsor Adidas.

  • Dominos, one of the world’s most popular pizza brands, has marketing agencies like Elevencom and Wavemaker as their media partners. Dominos owes its huge success to campaigns such as the “oh yes we did” or “ 30 mins delivery or free “ that they have adopted and stayed well ahead of competitors to become the world’s largest pizza company.

  • Rolls-Royce is one of the world's most elite brands and a status symbol, embodying beauty, luxury, style, and perfection. And even they appointed Ad agencies for creative duties on a project basis. BBH, TMRW, I_Possible, and Zeno Group Singapore are the various agencies handling everything from creatives to social media.

  • Unilever is one of the most admired brands with a number of health and beauty products. They have about 86 different marketing agencies working for their various products. One among them is Ogilvy and Mather - the worldwide agency that handles the global creative account for the brand. The CMO of Unilever has credited the marketing agencies he has been working with, saying, “we know long-term agency partnerships help us collaborate with people who really know our business, our marketers, our consumers, and our customers.” This is especially during the pandemic times when the brand Unilever offered €500Mn cash flow to support livelihood across their extended value chain.

When it comes to choosing a marketing and PR agency, however, things can get fuzzy with a wide array of options available for you to choose from.


These are tips to keep in mind while choosing your marketing and PR agency:

  • Who are the marketing agency’s clients?

  • Are they experts in your industry?

  • References?

  • What are the agency’s core values and company culture?

  • How are they better than their competitors?


Once a business chooses an agency to partner with, there are a few practices that must be followed while dealing with them to ensure a smoothly running relationship and fruitful outcomes.

  • The primary objective is to set out your goals and objectives:

Only when you are clear about what exactly you want to achieve will the agency be coherent and deliver measurable results. Be crisp and clear. The fewer words, the better. Instead of a word salad, use simple terms.

Although you can work on your goals and objectives internally, you can expect a great agency that understands your business and industry to work with you and set those targets, build strategies, and define tactics. Use them wisely.

  • Complete understanding of the working process and set deadlines:

Having set deadlines and an implicit understanding of how the process actually works helps both the company as well as the agency to be clear about how the campaign should be carried out.

Sometimes setting an impossibly tight deadline can surprise you with what can be accomplished if one sets their mind to it.

Elon Musk, the billionaire, is known for his superhuman productivity levels and for setting incredibly tight deadlines. In a quest to build the world's biggest rocket engine in history, he pushed limits asking for the impossible, and ensured a rocket turbopump was built in just 13 months, a process that usually takes three years! His relentless nature impressed his suppliers, who delivered the results quickly, much to their own surprise. This is an example of how developing an understanding between client and supplier can bring amazing results.

  • Collaborative effort:

A successful marketing campaign is the outcome of a collaborative effort between the marketing department, the agency(s) as well as all the other corporate stakeholders. Whether they are from marketing, PR, general management, or the sales team, regular debriefing and strategy sessions can be great opportunities to sync and align on goals and deliverables.

Ikea, a world-renowned furniture company with markets worldwide, has attributed its success to “true collaboration.” Laurent Triesten, UK marketing boss at Ikea, says, “We work as closely with our marketing agencies as we do with our furniture designers. This level of collaboration is the key to our success.”

  • Use the Agency’s Expertise to Your Advantage

There is no point in hiring an expert if you tell them how to do their job. You hired them to do a better job than you could have done with your own team.

Have faith in them, set KPIs and clear goals, and give them free rein so they can deliver their best.

  • Budgets and costs

Reach a consensus early on in the project about the budget and costs so that your agency can work effectively with the estimated budget, costs, and timings.

  • Measurability:

You can’t improve what you don't measure. Marketing is majorly about results. The right agency will help you analyze what went right and what went wrong and how it can be improved.


HOWEVER, not every aspect of a marketing campaign can be and should be measured in short-term direct and immediate financial gains.


Good marketing touches on product design, customer service, pricing, and delighting customers. It’s about sharing a remarkable story behind your brand. Marketing is creating the conditions for the network effect.


The words matter. If you are hiring someone to be in charge of promotion, say so. But if you want someone to be in charge of marketing, have them be in charge of all of it. If it touches the market, it’s marketing.


So, if you need one, go on and hire the best marketing agency in your field since marketing is no longer about the stuff you make; it’s all about the stories you tell and let the experts show you how it’s done!


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