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How to Talk About Your Agency

What you say matters

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Years ago, while on vacation in California, I had the fortunate — albeit slightly overwhelming — experience of sharing a cab over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge with the VP of Marketing for a very large home goods company. The conversation inevitably veered toward what I do and, upon discovering I worked for an advertising agency, what my agency was like.

Secretly hoping to get a foot in the door for some new digital business, I quickly set to giving her the list of amazing things our agency could do and the attributes that set us apart from the rest. There was only one problem: My explanation, while factual, wasn’t amazing or very compelling. Long story short, I got the business card, but not the follow up.  

So while the business deal wasn’t struck, I came away with the discovery of a monumental problem: I didn’t know how to sell the company I so enjoyed being a part of.

With some quick research I learned many of my team members struggled with this issue as well. So, to rectify the situation, I made a few simple additions to both the employee onboarding process and the continuing education work we did at the agency. The end result was an agency team armed with the knowledge and confidence to discuss the type of work we create and why.

Here at FortyFour, we believe every employee should know and be able to discuss a few key facts about the agency, just in case they find themselves in a high pressure situation (like sitting on a bridge over the Bay with a VP of Marketing).

Your agency’s elevator pitch
Each team member should be equipped with a well-formed and thoughtful elevator pitch for your agency. This pitch should be able to answer the question “What makes you guys different and better than all the rest?”

Here at FortyFour, we pride ourselves on the dynamic collaboration between the various experts on our staff. FortyFour exclusively hires very smart, well-rounded professionals who adapt quickly to various situations. We feel confident in our abilities to build digital experiences that speak both to brands’ missions as well as consumers. And above all else, for our clients, we’re always just a phone call away—partners included. This availability only further fosters collaborating potential.

The deliverables your agency creates
When you’re sitting down to explain the process of your agency, dedicate a large amount of time to the types of deliverables you output in each of the phases of your process. At FortyFour, we create everything from UX requirements documents and messaging architectures to visual guidelines and analytics dashboards. The purpose of all those outputs should be clear to the entire team.

The junior designer should understand the purpose of a feature function matrix, just as the senior developer should know why the style guide is created for a client brand.

How to talk about your work
This is somewhat similar to “Knowing your Deliverables,” but it goes a bit deeper than just knowing what the a specific document or presentation format is. This ability is focused on being really good at describing the creative approach, the technical strategy or the conceptual thinking behind your client work.

Obviously how you talk about your work and what exactly you say will vary, depending on department and deliverable, but in general each person should be able to answer the following questions about our big clients and projects.

  • What is the goal of the project?
  • What are challenges the client is facing?
  • What is the solution the team has created?
  • What are the decisions you made to create this deliverable this way and why?
  • If applicable, what are the challenges you faced and how did your team solve them?

Arming your team with this knowledge will create the best advertising you could have for your agency. The education will give team members the confidence in the office to participate in all types of discussions, both internal and external, and eventually further their careers.

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