Over the last couple of years, one of my favorite TV shows has been Ted Lasso (the first season more than the second). How can you watch Jason Sudeikis and not smile and feel better about life?
If you are familiar with the show, you know Ted is a woefully out-of-place American football head coach hired to lead a down-and-out English soccer team. Ted was hired to fail. We learn as the show unfolds that the owner wants the team to lose (and lose big) to get back at her ex-spouse. At first, Ted delivers on just that. He is awkward, clueless, and the butt of all jokes. He is disrespected by the players, fans, media, and everyone else.
However, as time goes on, Ted turns out to be more than he first appears. Ted and his homespun sayings/philosophies (“There’s two buttons I never like to hit: that’s panic and snooze” and “Your body is like day-old rice. If it ain’t warmed up properly, something real bad could happen” are just two examples) gradually win the respect of those around him. On the field, Ted brings some different ideas, which (eventually) lead to improved performance of the team.
So what does this have to do with finding the right digital marketing agency?
Soccer teams and digital marketing agencies have some important things in common. Both rely heavily on data. Both take skill, dedication, and collaboration to achieve successful results in a highly competitive space. And developing an effective digital marketing strategy takes time to do correctly. Ted’s ability to bring new ideas to the field, turn obstacles into strengths, and work collaboratively with his players perfectly represents our approach to digital marketing.
So, when you’re considering how to choose a digital marketing agency, should you hire a Ted Lasso to manage your digital marketing? Most firms don’t. Instead, they make the “safe” choice. They are drawn towards hiring an “industry-specific” agency with experience in their field. Undoubtedly, there are advantages to hiring an “industry agency.” They know your vocabulary and acronyms, have an idea of who your customers might be, and can quickly grasp your business and ramp up their marketing efforts.
We believe hiring the right digital marketing agency requires much more than finding an agency with experience in your industry. There are some significant disadvantages of working with an “industry-specific” or “safe” agency:
1. Your problems and challenges are not the same as your competitors.
There is an underlying assumption behind many “industry-specific” digital marketing agencies: your marketing challenges are the same as everyone else in the industry. This is simply not true. Imagine the challenges you face if you are a start-up vs. a legacy competitor. Or if you are a high-service, high-cost player vs. the low-cost leader. Or the mainstream choice vs. the niche alternative. Some of the vocabulary might be the same, but the marketing tactics, channels, techniques, and messages pushed into the marketplace need to be completely different.
2. Tendency to run a “one size fits all” playbook.
One allure of the “industry-specific” agency is they appear to have “been there, done that.” They claim to have tried all the different marketing channels and know what works and what doesn’t for your industry. While this may seem like the “easy button,” it can be limiting and negatively impact performance. If your business challenges and potential customers are different, why would the same channels and the same types of ads work as well for you as your competitors’? Any agency or marketing team that wants to “run a system” or use a standard playbook typically gets fast, mediocre results but no more.
3. Lack of creative/original thinking.
When you get in the mindset of running a playbook, it becomes challenging to veer off-script or try new things because you “know” what works (or at least what worked a couple of years ago). The tendency is to stick to the script, which is dangerous for performance. You want your digital marketing company to “go off script” sometimes and try new and different things.
The bottom-line results of using an industry-specific agency: similar performance as everyone else with little chance of breakthrough growth.
Why Our Digital Marketing Services are (un)Common
At (un)Common Logic, we fight these tendencies and seek to bring our clients unique and (un)Common thinking. Specifically:
1. We recognize that every client’s problems are different.
Whenever we start a new engagement, we spend a significant amount of effort getting to know the client’s business, unique selling propositions, target customers, why customers buy, competitors, etc. We spend time learning rather than assuming. This takes longer up front but delivers much better results down the road.
2. We bring in a blank notebook not a playbook to your digital marketing challenges.
Instead of “running the play,” we craft a unique plan for each client. It takes longer but is the only way to see the growth our clients want. In cases where we work with more than one client inside an industry, the digital marketing strategies for the clients are very different because the challenges are different. Different channels, tactics, ad copy, value propositions, keywords, etc.
For our team to create a customized plan for each client which uses the latest best practices alongside creative problem-solving, everyone completes our rigorous training program before they begin client work. And our team has weekly meetings in which new learnings, tools, and industry updates are shared. This means that everyone is able to take advantage of the knowledge and experience of everyone else in creating and optimizing each client’s plans.
3. We believe good ideas can come from anywhere.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, the best marketing ideas typically come from industries outside of your own. I have personally seen breakthrough ideas for an eyeglasses retailer originate from work we did for a meal delivery company. Or using a technique learned from a clothing company to accelerate the growth of a B2B SaaS company. Exposure to different industries, marketing challenges, and tactics is one of the most potent weapons (un)Common Logic can bring to our clients. This is why we have committed to being industry agnostic. We have clients in eCommerce, lead gen, B2B, B2C, fashion, SaaS, medical, industrial, services, etc. All over the board. We believe this makes us better marketers and allows us to bring unique ideas to different challenges.
So, should you hire a Ted Lasso to manage your digital marketing? Maybe. If you want breakthrough performance apart from your competitors, you need to bring in an agency that thinks differently. However, to achieve this growth, you must be willing to take the time to educate the agency on your business, customers, and challenges. You also need to have the patience to allow the agency to try things “outside the norm” for your industry and let Ted Lasso, well, be Ted Lasso.
Contact us to learn more about the (un)Common Logic approach to digital marketing – we would love to hear about your business goals and discuss how we can help achieve them.