When Ad Agencies Should Be Leading in Social Media, Most are Overwhelmed

So many new media channels, so little time! Is Social Media Overwhelming Your Ad Agency?

Barbara Bacci Mirque, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, ANA, recently observed that,

More and more advertisers are leading their agencies into new media, not the other way around,” and that “clients are the ones who are personally and professionally experimenting with new media forms and directing their agencies to look into them.” 

“When I started out in this business in the mid 80’s as an assistant product manager at The Frito-Lay Company, we expected our advertising agencies to be innovative and inform us about what was hip and cool – now it appears to be the other way around,” she wrote in the ANA blog.

I launched my ad agency new business consultancy entirely through the use of social media. With three kids in college I had to generate new business quickly. When I started my consultancy, I was determined that I was going to use the new business tools that I  recommend my clients and put into practice what I preach. There is no replacement from personal hands on experience when it comes to social media, if you are going to truly “get it.”

What is my motivation? I’m a participant because I’m a believer that I must know emerging media and the changes occurring in the advertising industry through new communication technology for my own professional survival. We are in the midst of a communications revolution as dynamic as was the invention and growth of television to our culture and its impact upon the ad industry.

My approach to new media is focused. I have learned to develop a disciplined approach and that focus comes from defining my target audience and be positioned to benefit them through my services.

When I’m writing blog posts for FUEL LINES I’m providing posts to to help them overcome their obstacles and challenges in generating new business for their small-to mid-size ad agency. I primarily write about new business tactics, tips, trends, talents and tools. I write exclusively for my target group. Knowing my audience provides me with focus and direction.

By identifying the key words that my target audience would use to find my content I can dominate the first two pages of Google. I also become aware of is appealing to them through my blog’s analytics.  They are the “judge and the jury” and they ultimately decide what is of interest.

My target group engages with me online and I learn a great deal about their challenges. What keeps them up at night.  There are a commonality of problems that help me hone in on finding solutions. Just this week past week I have had interactions through email, blog post comments, Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook and by phone with ad agencies located in Phoenix, Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville, Dallas, San Diego and even agencies in Canada, Brazil, England and New Zealand. It amazes me how similar their new business problems are no matter where the agency is located.

When I started my consultancy to small-to mid-size ad agencies, I was advised that I should broaden my scope, my focus was to limited and my niche to narrow. But I have been able to generate a national awareness and a position of expertise among my best prospects within a short period of time and at very little cost using social media.

In my opinion participating in social media is a professional survival tool for those in the advertising industry.

It is the greatest professional enrichment tool that I have ever used. It keeps me current, connected and informed. Plus it is the best tool for agency branding that I’ve worked with. It simplifies the branding process for agencies and allows for engagement with their potential clients to test and hone their brand’s appeal. In addition, social media has become a great new business tool that produces a pipeline of inbound leads and networking opportunities with an agency’s best prospective clients. And to top it all off, as you are becoming professionally enriched, branding your agency, generating new business, you are learning to use social media and will be able to help your clients and provide a powerful demonstration by using the tools you recommend they use.

I’ve taken the attitude that I’m back in graduate school and I’m putting in the extra time to immerse myself for my personal benefit as well as being able to provide help to my clients. I confess, I’m working a lot of nights and weekends. But I can say truely that it has been worth all of the time and effort. Lead generation from new media is beyond my expectations.

This is an exciting time to be in advertising. We are in the midst of a communication revolution. It is possible for small and midsize agencies to be ahead of the curve and make great gains for their business.

The best way to understand new media is to experience it first hand. So roll up your shirt sleeves and get involved.

5 tips to handle social media when feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Set simple, obtainable goals and objects
  2. Stay focus, it’s easy to have ADD while online
  3. Manage your online time
  4. Find and use the online tools that provide you with short cuts and efficiencies
  5. Create a strategic reading program and manage the content that is fed to you

Additional articles that may be of interest:

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Hi Michael, Great article! Its very tough for an agency to stay on par with every new trend & tool that emerges and you do a good job at identifying those challenges.

  2. Amen, Michael.

    You’re not just talkin’ the talk, you’re walkin’ the walk. And you’re as focused in your message as Obama was.

  3. Couldn’t agree more! Just had a conversation today with our PR manager talking about how this could be a new golden age for marketing experts. When technology or society or politics converge to cause dramatic change, those who can go vertical in a niche to provide understanding and clarity will be in hot demand. We must make sense of this all for our clients because ultimately they pay us for thought leadership and pulling direction and insight from the confusion.

  4. There is a boom in new media opportunities, the problem is that with the boom comes some terrible and extremely bad/poor mediums. They are usually easy to spot, but sometimes its too late

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