Too many companies feel that their marketing delivers random results and mediocre customer loyalty as the result of their marketing.
Why? Because they focus their job (or have been forced to focus their job) on advertising and not marketing. If you think of it, advertising hits consumers for only a fraction of the purchase decision process. Bang. Billboard when I'm in my car. Interesting pitch. I go to the store. No relevant support ads, no service- different offer than what I thought that billboard said.
Ad agencies are often criticized for not evolving with the attention spans of consumers. New media, social media, no media - have all cut into the traditional ad space and have left many people pointing the finger at their ad agency for any missed opportunity in these spaces and the increasing voice that says "advertising is dead".
I'll agree that there are a ton of agencies who continuously do pretty good work (as in TV, Print, Online) but miss the mark on this new media stuff. But that's not the point. The point is that pretty good work (in any communication category) doesn't mean increased revenue for clients.
The problem is the conversation between clients and ad agencies. If your job is to market the company you work for and you seek an ad agency for help, chances are that you base your requests to them off of previous work that you have done or the agency has done. The problem is that you probably do your job pretty good, the agency spits out creative that's pretty good, and everyone is left satisfied...barely.
The mindset has to change. When you are looking to an agency for help you should focus on the marketing of your company not the advertising. There's a big difference. Real change and remarkable work only comes when this is the focus. Just like you, the agency should be thinking about marketing. If you nodding your head in agreement, but deal with your agency as the 'producer of your ads' your short changing yourself.
To focus on the marketing, the first conversation with any agency should sound like - we have zero advertising budget, but need to market this company, how can we make that happen? You probably wouldn't say that though. How could you market your company without the media? Well you would get what you pay for from your agency - killer creative ideas. BUT these ideas would be "why don't your sales people say this...","what if the store did this..." and "do you think selling the service that way is still effective?" It will force a shift from being an ad focused marketer to a revenue generating marketer. You'll step on all sorts of department' toes. Some people will probably even be pretty pissed off - until revenues jump, that struggling product becomes a leader and you and your agency create that necessary shift to energize the companies image.
This doesn't mean that you will not use advertising media, it just means you'll approach the problem different. You'll train your mind to forget the knee jerk reaction ("quick, do a print ad, our sales are down.") You'll hit customers in more places - not just while driving down the road to work. Every interaction with your company will change and that brand you keep trying to build will solidify itself as a tangible emotion in the mind of your customer. In the end you'll be accountable, you'll have tested the guts of your ad agency, and done your job remarkably.