From a veteran of all 3
When I was a kid, my father had an electronics store that I worked in from the time that I was 13 through my entry into graduate school. My time at the store was an incredible learning experience, and one of the most interesting lessons had to do with selling audio speakers to “reasonably sophisticated” consumers. People would come in with a particular idea of what they liked (or should like) based on magazine reviews (pre-internet) that plotted out the frequency response of the speakers, described the “warmth” of their sound or that described some other attribute that was difficult for speaker buyers to relate to (think wine purchasing).
I would join them in listening to a variety of speakers from different manufacturers in different form factors with very different aesthetics. But their eyes wouldn’t let them buy what their ears suggested that they should. Speakers that didn’t “look quite right” or that weren’t from familiar “name” brands caused buyers to overrule their own ears. I often wondered what would have happened if we had simply put a screen in front of all of our speakers and only permitted our buyers to listen – possibly providing them with the price and nothing more. We did try a limited test of this approach, but the interesting and relevant aspect of this for me is the difficulty that buyers have in making informed decisions regarding speakers, colleges or Digital Agencies and in trusting their own first-hand observations. And hence our reliance on brand.
In evaluating colleges over the past two years, I have seen the same problem (though at a substantially higher budget). The “Brand” matters. The “Look” matters. And if you’re not careful the classroom experience (read the actual sound), can get lost in the shuffle. Whether it is how colleges present themselves on the web, during the course of their Information Sessions, or in their frequent communications, every touchpoint conveys something about their brand. And ultimately, just like the speaker buyers that I dealt with years ago, hearing great speakers doesn’t necessarily translate into buying great speakers. The “Brand” and the “Aesthetic” can overwhelm all else. An unfortunate outcome, but the marketplace ultimately delivers what buyers buy.
And this holds doubly for the selection of Digital Agencies
Analyzing client marketing needs and communications challenges and creating appropriate digital experiences and/or applications in support of those needs is complex. Reducing this to a review of JPGS or a simplified brand-based decision is problematic and is akin to picking speakers based on their appearance rather than their sound. It may seem seductive, but you will have to live with the consequences.
Analyze your own needs and measure your perspective vendors along the variables that matter for your project. Or better yet, embrace the Digaboom Concierge service and we will help you do exactly that to ensure the optimum fit between your Digital Marketing team and your project needs.