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How is W&B different?

Too many agencies still put their strongest effort into the “the beauty contest.” Often that’s a really cool 30-second TV spot (it’s still the glamour-girl of the business) or a cool-looking logo or webpage. Then, they attempt to shoehorn that effort into the brand strategy for everything else. Excuse us, but that’s bass ackwards and it rarely works.

We spend the right amount of time developing the brand strategy, putting it in document form, and satisfying the client that we’re on track. Then we determine the best way to create the message.

Sometimes, it even includes a cool TV spot.

What are your capabilities?

  • Brand Identity & Strategy
  • Corporate Identity
  • Campaign Development
  • Website Design & Development
  • Media Planning & Buying
  • Collateral Materials
  • Online Campaign Execution
  • Video/Broadcast Production
  • Print Production
  • Social Media Execution
  • Public Relations
  • Special Events

Are you a branding firm or an ad agency?

Yes. Next question please.

Seriously, we do plenty of both types of work and we can make a great argument that in most cases, it’s rarely necessary to separate the two services. They absolutely have to work hand-in-hand, so why have two different creators?

Why should I hire W&B for naming rather than a naming-only firm?

No naming firms are located in Hampton Roads and, to put it bluntly, they charge an arm and a leg. We’ve named plenty of businesses and created taglines (usually as a critical component of a branding effort) with very good results. Having said all this, if you have (or plan to have) nationwide marketing needs, a high-priced naming firm may be something you should consider as part of your initial marketing expenditures.

A few of our naming & tagline efforts have included:

Port Warwick – Welcome Back to the Neighborhood

Virginia Health Services – In the care of people you know.

City of Newport News – Where Great Things Are Happening

New Town Shops on Main – Keeps on Shining

Virginia Health Home Care – In your home. In our care.

Peninsula Funeral Home – Because it takes a family, to comfort a family.

Why should I care that W&B has been in business for 55 years?

Frankly, it’s probably not the biggest factor in anyone’s decision to work with us. On the other hand, it does say that we know how to manage an ad agency-a tough business if there ever was one. And it says that we are good at managing your money and ours – and we do it with integrity.

So, when all is said and done, maybe a lengthy record of honesty and success is a valuable consideration.

You do a lot of consumer work: what about Business to Business?

Our ratio of consumer work to B2B work fluctuates. At this particular time we do a lot of consumer work but we have ALWAYS done B2B and we do it very well. Some samples of our B2B work can be seen in the web category we call Our Work.

What clients have you done work for?

We intentionally avoid displaying a client list on our website for a variety of reasons. Many are shown under the “Our Work” category. You can also just give us a call and ask us one-on-one if we have some experience in your particular industry.

Quite a few agencies tend to specialize in a particular area these days. W&B has never done that. Is that good for my account?

We’ve never seen the long-term, or even the short-term value of specialization. What if that particular industry goes into a recession? (See 2008-2012 real estate or financial accounts for glaring examples).. The people we hire enjoy the challenge involved with doing a senior-living campaign one day and a family vacation website the next. And the day after that they might be branding a candidate for city council or planning a special event for the unveiling of a magnificent sculpture. That’s why we come to work very day with such a high level of energy. That translates into exciting work for our clients.

Do you collaborate with other agencies?

While that’s not our typical MO, it’s not unheard of. When it makes sense, we welcome that kind of strategic partnership. We usually learn something we didn’t know and the other agency would probably say that they did as well.

Either way, we take pride in our ability to work and play well with others.

We’re asking 12 firms for proposals, will you be one of them?

If you’re asking that many firms, you haven’t spent enough time determining what kind of firm you are best suited for. Spend some more time looking at websites. Talk to a few clients, media and/or vendors. And while it’s no longer a necessity to be located in the same neighborhood, don’t discount the value of face-to-face meetings on a regular (or last minute) basis.

When you’ve narrowed it down to 3 to 5, we would love the opportunity to be considered.

Can you give us a viral video?

While they can be fun, entertaining, inspirational or educational, as a stand-alone project a viral video rarely has much effectiveness without the integration of other media into the overall campaign.

Viral videos are best used as part of a comprehensive, strategic marketing plan. It’s an awfully heavy investment to make without having much of a guarantee that in and of itself, it will create enough buzz to move the needle.

What’s a typical engagement term?

There is no standard engagement in our business. If you have a short-lived project that we feel is well suited for us, bring it on.

The reality is that most of our long-term clients started off by working with us on a short project. Often, we’ll actually recommend that to prospects as a great way to check out the chemistry between our organizations, without a major commitment.

What’s your view on research?

Knowing whom your customer is and what motivates them is critical when doing any type of brand creation or marketing work.

We aren’t fans of using research to select creative work. It’s ok as a way to gather information, but showing 10 people a few different ads is not the same as exposing large numbers of people to a variety of media that tells your story over a period of time.

We do suggest that you make sure your ad agency works with the research people to assemble questions.

Are you a digital agency?

Has the new millennium begun? Yes, and contrary to what a few clients thought in 1995, this Internet thing might be here to stay.

Every year more and more of our work involves digital. That can be the creation of a website, a social media advertising campaign, a social media PR effort, e-mail blasts, an app, re-targeting or some other new means of making the internet work as a highly persuasive advertising and marketing tool.

And while digital is now a component of virtually everything we do, it is not all we do. If you have made the unusual decision to transform your entire marketing effort to a digital one, we’re probably not the best choice.

Do you do spec work for agency reviews?

Have we done spec work? Who hasn’t?

The problem is that it’s very time consuming and it goes against our grain. Our ideas are valuable. What’s all this mean? It means that we don’t work in a vacuum. We allow enough time with the client to learn every useful bit of information that can help us do our jobs well. And the converse holds true. We hate to admit it, but sometimes, even clients have good ideas.

But even when the spec looks great and it helps us win the account, it rarely sees the light of day once we learn what all of the real challenges and opportunities are.

Finding the best fit takes a lot of research time and determining chemistry takes face-to-face time. It’s worth your effort to vet the candidates. Spend time with them. You can find the people you want to work with without having them create pie-in-the-sky ideas.

What should my RFP cover?

Too many RFPs come across our desks that are nothing more than a retrofitting of another RFP. Just as likely, they are a retrofitting of a retrofitting. We’ve even received RFPs that inadvertently left the name of the previous user in place.

The best RFPs get to the point. They ask questions that are pertinent to YOUR business, not a catch-all of questions that are nothing more than bits of useless information. You don’t need detailed bios on every person that will ever touch your account. But you should want them for the 3 or 4 people who will be your primary producers. You don’t need a highly detailed breakout of what percent of their billings are spent on online, TV, print, collateral, etc. And just because only 5.8% of their work is in radio, don’t assume they aren’t competent at it.

Stick with what’s important to you. What are your biggest challenges? What do you need to do better? Are your demographics getting older by the year? Are you locked in a price war that no one can win? Do your prospects understand your product well enough to know why they should buy it?

And please, please don’t make the RFP about the lowest bidder. You want your ad agency to make a profit. If you really hold their feet to the fire it’s unlikely that you’ll get their best work. Then, where will you be? Back to another lengthy RFP process…

We still need printed collateral and print media advertising. Many agencies seem to have left those skills behind. How about W&B?

We still love it. For many of our clients it’s still a critical medium, especially those who need to reach 55+ consumers and/or business executives and owners. And printers appreciate our attention to detail. Evidently, they don’t see that very often these days.

Who will actually work on my account?

We’re a small firm. Almost everyone you meet as you walk through our offices will work on your business.

The first time you meet with us, you will meet the person who will be your primary agency contact. If the amount of work must be completed in a short period of time or has a lot of moving parts, we have outside specialists we bring in on a regular basis. These are people that we select because they have a working knowledge of your general type of business or of a particular medium.

  • The team at Waters & Bridgman is simply superb. They have been our agency of choice for many years and we could not be happier with their work. They truly understand our needs, they are always prepared, and always recommend what is best for us and our clients. I am impressed with their dedication and management of our account. Howard, Sandy, and their entire team are a pleasure to work with.

    Eva WigginsCity Center at Oyster Point
  • We’ve been working with Waters & Bridgman for many years. During that time we have grown from one convalescent center to seven convalescent centers, a luxury retirement center, an assisted living facility, a rehabilitation division and most recently, a home health care division. W&B has been our marketing partner throughout these expansions and has undoubtedly been a major factor in our growth. They are extremely responsive to our needs and are always a pleasure to do business with.

    Jeffrey L. Mendelsohn, President and CEOVirginia Health Services, Inc.
  • I work regularly with Waters & Bridgman on a wide variety of my business ventures and non-profit entities. The closest to my heart is probably Port Warwick, a highly successful, mixed-use real estate development. W&B created the branding, advertising, websites and several special events for us. They even came up with the name, Port Warwick, leading to a highly publicized literary connection with the late William Styron. I continue to throw any number of challenges at them. They always come through like the creative professionals they are.

    Bobby Freeman, PresidentTower Park Corporation
  • A good working relationship takes a lot of patience, listening ability and an in-depth understanding of how to market the product. Our relationship with Waters and Bridgman has all this and more!

    Cindy Brouillard, DirectorNewport News Tourism