15 Tips For Tackling Some Of The Most Interesting Agency Challenges

If there is one truth about agency life, it’s that it is never boring. Professionals who thrive in the busy fields of marketing, advertising and public relations have a taste for variety and always approach the many opportunities and challenges they face with an open, curious and innovative mindset.

Ask any agency leader to tell you what you could learn from them about a challenge one of their clients came to them with, and they will likely have to spend a minute sorting through the myriad issues they’ve helped clients tackle to decide which was the most intriguing one that could offer other pros the most insight. Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share the most interesting challenges they’ve dealt with, along with tips for other agencies facing similar client issues, based on their approach and results.

1. Assessing Brand And Digital Equity Helps Clients In M&A Decide Whether To Rename Or Rebrand

Clients experiencing an acquisition or a merger often need our help in deciding whether to take one of the two companies’ names or rebrand. This challenge requires quantitative research on current and future customers to correctly assess the perceived brand and digital equity of each company. It’s best to lay out an agreed-upon scorecard to measure both kinds of equity and act on the result. – Scott Miraglia, Elevation Marketing

2. Creating Dedicated In-House Resources Can Help Clients Achieve Social Media Content Goals

We have had multiple clients ask us to get them onto TikTok. They realized that their audience was moving there, but didn’t know where to start. Fortunately, we already knew and loved the platform. The community is almost allergic to ads, especially recycled TV spots. So we created an in-house studio to create content specifically for TikTok. – Libby Brockhoff, Odysseus Arms

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

3. Creating Content Focused On Intangible Values Can Help Clients Own The Emotional Space

We handle a brewery’s global account that was severely affected by the recent bar closures. This was compounded by the cancellation of Carnival, which the brand was usually a huge part of. We persuaded the client to own the emotional space with a campaign called “Hold on to the Carnival,” a nostalgic, interactive series that saw a 12% spike in sales without a single discount offer. Intangible values work. – Ernest Ross, Ross Advertising

4. Helping Clients ‘Make Their Own News’ Can Increase Awareness Of Their Company

It’s pretty common to have clients who want to increase the awareness of their company, but have no hard news. In that case, we focus on thought leadership, of course, but also on “making your own news.” You can help clients do that by working with them to create proprietary surveys and results, then share interesting data or host events such as roundtables. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications

5. Optimizing New Content With The Info Searchers Want Can Fix A Client’s Bad Search Results 

A client had an old article that kept appearing prominently in his search results, while recent and relevant articles did not. Standard tactics didn’t help. Our analysis showed that the article contained the answer to a key question people ask about him. By optimizing a better article that addressed that question, the old one went away. Find out what information searchers want, and provide it your way! – Sam Michelson, Five Blocks

6. Creating Trending Content Can Do More Harm Than Good In Brand-Building And Lead-Gen

A continuous challenge my clients bring up is the desire to create trending content even though it’s off-brand for them and their business. Just because trendy content can go viral doesn’t mean it’s what every business and brand should try to create. If a client wants to build a brand and generate leads, the route is not always to create trending content—sometimes it can do more harm than good. – Tony Pec, Y Not You Media

7. Doing A Brand Refresh Can Help Companies Attract New-Generation Leadership

A challenge companies are facing now is a generational shift, with Baby Boomers retiring and younger generations stepping into the workplace. In order to stay relevant to this new generation, companies have to continue to be innovative and evolve. This might mean a refresh for the brand, new services or product offerings, or a PR stunt to bring attention to the brand and appeal to younger leadership. – Marilyn Cowley, PREM – PR & Social

8. Having Experts On Your Team Can Help Clients Fix Any Internal Mess They Have Created

As an SEO and digital marketing agency, most of our interesting challenges come from clients who tried to manage these areas on their own. It worked for them at first, but big mistakes were made. Then, they contacted us to fix severe Google penalties and deactivated Google Ads accounts. The best tip we can give other agencies is to have experts on your team who can fix any mess. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH

9. Advising Clients To Follow Ad Policy Guidelines Prevents Impossible Challenges Later

The most interesting challenge our company is often approached with is also a common one: Companies that have violated ad platform rules. It’s rare to see these accounts reactivated, so at that point, there’s not much an agency can do. So my advice for clients is this: Follow ad policy guidelines closely. Don’t take big risks with the rules; it’s better to be able to run 80% of your ads than 0% of them. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

10. Not Refusing Requests For Expedited Solutions Can Lead To Long-Term Partnerships

We have often had clients come to us asking us to expedite the launch of a website for them in a week. Their prior plans have fallen through, or they simply did not think of something until the last minute. We have often accepted those challenges and turned those clients into long-term partnerships. I would advise that no matter how hard the challenge is, don’t say “no” initially. Figure out a solution. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

11. Being Transparent About How Long A Project Will Take Will Help Clients Win 

One big issue is the merging of social media accounts. For example, a client will approach us for a Facebook campaign, and then we uncover that they have four active Facebook pages for their company. Now what? They ask us to combine them into one. My tip for agencies facing this situation? Say, “Yes, we can help, but it will take time.” This is a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of game. There is no instant or consistent resolution. Be transparent. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

12. Thinking Outside The Box Can Help You Discover Solutions To Clients’ Challenges

One particular client was dealing with too much of their time being taken up by issuing certificates of insurance. We developed an app to automate this process and let customers download the certificates instead. As an agency, you must always be prepared to think outside the box and willing to look at issues and challenges from angles you had not previously considered, such as utilizing automation. – Lisa Montenegro, Digital Marketing Experts – DMX

13. Digging Deeper Into Presented Issues Can Reveal Bigger Challenges Clients Face

Our agency was challenged with creating a crisis management brief. The client expressed concern that their brand was going to be harmed by third parties. Our subject matter experts determined the crisis was merely contained in an online echo chamber and advised the client not to react. Instead, we brought to their attention a separate issue with higher volatility and longer-term impact. – Albert Moufarrij, MACH9

14. Teaming Up With Other Agency Partners Can Offer Clients More Holistic Solutions

We had a client with so much turnover in their internal marketing department that our agency had more institutional knowledge about the marketing initiatives than anyone in-house. We presented them with an opportunity to entirely outsource their marketing department to us by teaming up with an agency partner that could fill in everything we didn’t offer, and presented them with a holistic solution. – April Margulies, Trust Relations

15. Taking On Projects Outside Of Your Wheelhouse Can Drive Results And Expand Expertise

Don’t turn something down because it’s outside of your wheelhouse! We recently launched a unique, fast-turnaround campaign that was quite challenging in terms of influencer discovery and activation. Even though it wasn’t the type of program we’re most familiar with, we were able to leverage our skills to drive strong results while also expanding our knowledge and expertise along the way. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group


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