With 20 years at seven different agencies and a couple of turns as a marketing director, I’ve seen first hand how agencies of all sizes operate. At every stop, each agency proclaimed, “We’re different because _____” in the pitching process. While we were always stronger at some service offerings over others and the industries our clients operated in gave us different levels of expertise than the next guy, fundamentally every agency was pretty similar to the next. A new business win usually came down to relationships, chemistry with clients and applicable experience in that industry.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few exceptions. Every few years an agency emerges with a new approach that produces great work that sets them apart. At different points in time, shops like TBWA/Chiat Day, Wieden+Kennedy and 72 & Sunny separated themselves with the opportunities they had, while the rest of us worked in a sea of sameness, or category specialization.
I’m here to say we are an exception too. Walk West is different. But by saying so, we are exactly like every other agency ever. So what makes our growing agency in Raleigh, North Carolina truly different?
We are digital-first.
The agency was born in 2007 with a strong digital mindset, so we were never a traditional agency. The majority of the team are digital natives and we naturally think in digital solutions. We never had to scramble and shift from traditional to digital, because we were already there.
We start with research.
Everything we do – from UX to web design to web development to marketing – is informed by research. We rarely start any project without it. We need to understand the industry, competitors, sales process and, most importantly, the audience and how they feel about your brand.
We believe in collaboration.
Everyone says this word a lot. Walk West is organized specifically for it, for both collaboration between our teams and between client and agency. Whether developers or designers, we bring everyone to the table to talk about their approach to the project. Clients are free to communicate with whomever, whenever. Most agencies are designed to prevent this which creates one big, very expensive game of telephone.
We love our people.
Yes, our people are different. They are talented and they care. They care a lot. Whether it’s about a sitemap or a schedule, we want to prove why you chose to partner with us on every project.
The team you buy is the team you get.
Most agencies sell you with senior people, but end up with a junior team doing the work. We hear this all the time. We don’t have many junior people here, nor do we have a hallway of offices full of vice presidents with bloated salaries. The people in the room at the start don’t disappear. We stay with the project and invest in the partnership.
There’s power in partnership.
Our goal is not to be a vendor. We built the agency to serve as a digital partner to organizations of all types and sizes. For smaller companies, we serve as the marketing department. For larger companies, we are a marketing resource counted on to co-author strategy, then create and execute marketing plans.
Transparency is a must.
I worked at Kaiser Marketing in Los Angeles for nearly a decade. Owner and founder Michael Kaiser taught me many things, but one simple practice has always held true. Clients may not always remember the creative you did for them, the awards won or the even the number of times you bailed them out, but they will always remember how you billed them. We have a single blended hourly rate that applies to everything we do, whether it’s the CEO or a senior designer. We devote a lot of time to developing scopes of work that clearly define what’s involved and what’s not. If a task falls outside of scope, we get approval before we move forward. We respect budgets and we never nickel and dime anyone with overages or other nonsense. Our end goal is to make sure you know how your money was spent, how it can be spent better in the future and the ROI delivered.
Last but not least, we hustle.
We don’t rush through a project. We are thoughtful and follow our process step-by-step never jumping to the end, but we value your timelines and put significant effort and resources to make sure success happens on schedule.
These are just a few of the ways we stand apart. Our differences are the reason why we’ve grown from a handful of people to more than 20 in just 18 months. Want to find out what sets your company apart? Come partner with us and we’ll grow together.