September 1, 2003 Issue #15


  • MARKETING: Ad agency or not?
  • 3 simple things to do for your business this month
  • There is still time . . .
  • Good links: Presenters’ University
  • Write to us / pass it along / article reprints

MARKETING: Ad agency or not?

Many smaller businesses seem to shy away from hiring an advertising agency. The perception is that they are too expensive and will not provide the budget conscious service that small businesses need to remain profitable.

Entrepreneurs also get caught in the “do-it-yourself” mode and firmly believe that they can provide their own services. But - do you cut your own hair? do your own plumbing? repair your own car?

Advertising requires a certain expertise that few have. Advertising professionals have years of education and training in their field. There are many highly specialized functions within the advertising realm such as graphic design, layout, research, media placement, copywriting, and production. Each of these requires a different kind of training to produce the skills needed to be proficient.

An advertising agency will coordinate all of these functions to create a cohesive and well-though-out program that produces leads. If you hire an advertising agency, that is exactly what you should expect. If you don’t get results, you have probably hired the wrong agency.

Why hire an ad agency? Here are a few situations in which an advertising agency can help.

  • Do your investors expect rapid growth? An ad agency can help provide the focus to produce a comprehensive program that will jump-start your sales. They can develop branding, corporate image and an advertising campaign to increase your visibility in the marketplace.

  • Do you often place ads in print, broadcast or other media? Ad agencies have expert media buyers who can negotiate the best deal and the best placements for their clients. Even with the ad agency’s commission, this can be a money saver for you. The media buyers can also help get your ad placed in a location where it will be seen or heard by the audience that you need to reach.

  • Are you doing your own advertising in-house and spending a substantial amount but not getting the results that you expected? An ad agency can be objective about your business and spot opportunities that you might have missed. With their expertise, they can also see that you are doing the right kind of advertising, in the right place and at the right time.

How do you go about hiring an advertising agency? Hiring an ad agency is not much different from hiring any other supplier. Ask questions. Evaluate the answers. Check references. Below are some tips on what to look for.

  • Look for an agency with experience working with businesses that are of a type and size similar to yours. Do they understand your business and the terminology that is used in it? Not only the agency but the person who is assigned to your account should understand your business. Question them until you are satisfied with the answers. Ask to see examples of work for businesses like yours. Talk to these businesses directly about their experience with the agency and ask if the program was successful.

  • Check references. Find out if it is easy to communicate with the people at the agency. Do they live up to their claims? Do they return calls promptly? Find out if work is completed in a timely manner and if deadlines are met. Are they reliable?

  • Will the agency work within the budget that you have available? Larger agencies often will only deal with very large budgets.

  • Will they be held accountable? If they are making grand claims about the potential effectiveness of their proposed campaign, will they reduce the fee if their projections are not met?

  • Understand what you are paying for. Ad agencies make their money through client fees, advertising commissions, and mark-ups on goods and services provided. Insist on a detailed explanation of the costs in the proposed campaign. Require approval before any expenditures are made on your behalf. You can often save money by acquiring goods and services that are subject to mark-up yourself.

  • Does their proposal make sense to you? If the proposal seems too grand, too good to be true, or just inappropriate for you type of business, ask questions until you have clear answers. If it still doesn’t feel right - trust your instincts.

3 simple things to do for your business this month

1. Evaluate your professional association memberships. Many professional organizations go on hiatus during the summer. Now that things are rolling again, it is a good time to look at the organizations you attend. Is the time and money you spend worth it? Do these organizations meet your goals? Some organizations are great for lead generation. Others provide information on effectively operating a business and trends. Still others are simply good places to socialize with other entrepreneurs. If you don’t currently participate in any professional organizations, now is a good time to try out one or two.

2. Unclutter your e-mail. Purge old documents. Unsubscribe from newsletters that you don’t read. Use the tool provided with your e-mail software to automatically sort e-mail into designated folders.

3. Reevaluate your banking services. In the past year, much as changed in the small business services offered by banks. This is a good time to take a look at the services you currently are using and how much you are paying for them. Among the things to look for: free or reduced costs for checking accounts, on-line bill payment (saves time and postage), easier applications for lines of credit, merchant credit card processing for smaller business, financial planning, payroll services, and more.

There is still time . . .

to register for the fall entrepreneurship classes at Lakewood High School and Polaris Career Center. If you have been considering taking classes, sign up today. If we do not have enough people enroled in a course, it will have to be cancelled so early registration is important.

According to the Small Business Administration, the biggest reason for business failure is lack of management competence. Refreshing and upgrading your business skills is a critical step in ensuring your on-going success.

This fall, business Odyssey is offering the following classes: So You Want Your Own Business, The Nuts & Bolts of Starting & Operating Your Own Business, Power Marketing for Smaller Businesses, Business Research Basics, Starting a Home-Based Business, How to Gain an Extra Two Hours in Your Day, and How to Start an Online Business with Little or no Money. For complete descriptions and registration information, visit

GOOD LINKS: Presenters’ University

One of the best ways to get noticed in the business world is to find opportunities to speak to groups of people - either prospects or colleagues. If you are accustomed to speaking frequently, the challenge is to keep things fresh. If you haven’t spoken before, the challenge might be in overcoming your terror.

One place that both new and experienced speakers can get help is at The Presenters University at Here you will find free downloads of presentation templates to spice up your visuals. There is an “Ask the Professor” section where you can get answers to questions pertaining to all aspects of public speaking.

A variety of mini-courses and articles help you get over stage fright, develop content, perfect your delivery and deal with equipment and software. Some of the articles include “5 Fail-Safe Tips When You Forget or Get Flustered During a Presentation,” “Tips for Presenting to Young Audiences,” and “10 Easiest Ways to Blow a Sales Presentation.”

The site is a marketing vehicle for selling software, books and consulting services. However, the free content is excellent and well worth a visit.

Write to us; pass it along; reprint articles

If you have questions, comments or an idea for an article you would like to see in The Chronicle, please drop us a line at

Please pass this newsletter along to anyone you think might find it of interest. If you do, be sure to forward it in its entirety and include the copyright notice.

To use an article in your own publication, just send me an e-mail telling me which article you want to use. I will e-mail you the complete article with an information block which MUST be included.

Copyright 2003 Kathleen Thompson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Business Odyssey

Cleveland, Ohio