I’ve been in the marketing industry since 1988, and I’m seeing trends I never imagined before. You can order a logo design for five bucks online. It may be a terrible logo, but many 1990s ad agencies would have charged five to ten thousand dollars for a logo that still might be terrible. You can buy a custom “explainer video” for $150. It looks exactly like the other 2 million explainer videos on Youtube, but in the past, traditional ad agencies charged from $5,000 to $500,000 for any kind of video. I’ve worked for several traditional advertising agencies in Wichita, KS, and I’ve watched the demand for those kinds of services shrink, especially in this challenging economy.

Don’t get me wrong, Wichita advertising agencies are doing some great work—really great work. It’s just harder for most businesses, right now, to justify marketing budgets that don’t show exactly what you’re paying for in a simple, menu format.

Here’s what’s really changed: in the “old days,” we agency folk knew a lot more about marketing than our clients did. Now clients can get information about anything on the Internet with a few keystrokes. Like the great stage magicians of the early 20th century, ad agencies are losing their mystique in the 21st. Clients are looking for clear goals and transparent billings.

Adverising Agencies of the Past

It really began in the late 1990s, when we saw the demise of many top advertising agencies in Wichita and around the country—most of them mid-sized. The industry was split into two extremes: very large existing agencies and a new crop of small, “boutique” agencies, whose services were less expensive and available on a more a la carte basis.

Advertising Agencies and Internet Marketing

More recently, the Internet has nourished an ocean of new marketing products and services that can be purchased like a used bicycle on eBay. Prices are lower than ever, but in most cases, so is quality. Like anything other investment, a dollar spent on marketing that doesn’t work is a dollar wasted.

But I think marketers have thrown out the baby with the bath water to some extent, in this new online culture. Most of us still want some guidance from a three-dimensional human being when we make any kind of investment in our companies. It may be an overused word, but “synergy” is a very real phenomenon, and it happens when you have a relationship with a marketing partner, not when you check a box online.

So where is the happy medium for a growing company that needs marketing products, services and occasionally some guidance, but doesn’t want to pay retainers for the privilege of having a conversation?

Local Advertising with US Logo, Inc.

Here’s what we’re trying at US Logo: Call us crazy, but if we offer creative services, print advertising, broadcast media, video, web, and SEO (we also happen to be a manufacturer of vehicle wraps, print and promotional products, and branded apparel), why can’t we just show you the menu? If you need brand management or “technical support,” we’re right here in Wichita. Stop by for a cup of coffee. We’ll figure it out together.

Wynn Ponder has been a copywriter, creative director, video producer and account manager for several Wichita ad agencies. He now manages video marketing services at US Logo.

Advertising Agencies