Why most agency web sites are a pig’s breakfast

With laptops open and a lively discussion underway recently, a client asked me where to look on an agency website for the information she was looking for.

In this instance, the client was looking for a long-list of agencies to put before her Agency Selection Committee and with multiple choices in-hand, said client was trawling through an array of irrelevant content in an effort to find the detail she needed to provide context and verification for her choices.

In one example, the agency home page was so confusing, the client asked how the agency could even be a realistic consideration if their own site was virtually unintelligible. Wrapped up in some sort of paintbox game, there were no clear links to content, navigation was unintuitive, lots of focus on describing how smart they were and no obvious connection to the content that a potential client might be looking for.

So the lesson here is if a client (or perhaps a search consultant – even investors) has landed on your website, chances are they’re looking for something.  And it’s not how to play game of hide and seek with who you are. Rather, they’re looking for very high level overview of your agency – not a barrage of television commercials or websites that demonstrate your creativity. Yes, that may come later, but typically, first blush, vital statistics will encompass:

A list of major clients

Why?  At this stage a long-list selection is likely around clients that may be a conflict and perhaps a search for relevant industry expertise.  It’s not about a drilling into creative (yet) in place of a list – it’s just not helpful.  In fact it’s distracting.

Offices

Why?  Typically clients or search consultants just need to know if you can service their needs in whatever market they’re searching for.

Size

Why?  It gives an instant sense of scale as to whether the agency is too small (or perhaps to big) for a client’s needs.  Criteria around size comes up more often than one might suspect.  Some clients have minimum revenue criteria, others cannot represent more than a certain percentage of an agency’s billing, while others want to make sure they’ll be a big fish in a smaller pond. Size matters!

Areas of expertise

Why?  A search is typically prompted by a specific need.  In many cases that today that need is often around digital.  So spelling out your broad areas of expertise will only help.

Contact

Well, hopefully this needs no explanation.  But you’d be surprised how many agencies make even that  difficult.  A specific name, Email and a phone number is typically what’s needed at this stage.

I’m not saying this is all a client, agency search consultant or potential investor might be looking for – of course not.  But in doing an initial pass (particularly if no agency search consultant is involved, and the prospective client is unfamiliar with the market), then your agency needs to make clients, offices, size, expertise and yes – who to talk to – easy to find.

Really.  It’s that simple.

Please.  And thank you.

STEPHAN ARGENT

Stephan Argent is Founder and Principal at Listenmore Inc offering confidential advisory to marketers looking for truly independent insight and advice they can’t find anywhere else. Read more like this on our blog Marketing Unscrewed / follow me @StephanArgent

Photo: Michael
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One thought on “Why most agency web sites are a pig’s breakfast

  1. A compelling talent attraction microsite might also be enticing. Research says that ‘looking for work’ is the #2 reason people visit an agency website (#1 is clients looking for a new agency) yet, most agencies make it impossible for a potential employee to apply.

    If I was a client looking for a new advertising agency, I would want to be reassured that my business would be well staffed with the best and brightest minds always. To build my confidence in this area, I would want to see that the agency is making it EASIER for applicants to get through, not harder.

    ~ heidi

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