What’s best for your business? If you consider yourself a small or medium-size advertiser, the strategic choice may be particularly tough. So let’s see…if you want what are termed the “best-in-class specialists” for today’s more complex marketing world, you’ll likely want to consider all or several of the following kinds of firms:
Collateral material (both paper-based and digital)
Creative ad campaign team
Direct marketing (both paper-based and electronic)
Media planning and buying group
Public relations shop
Trade show exhibit specialist/signage
Specialist firms are available in all of the above. So what should you do? It seems so logical to desire a team of “specialists.” It implies they know more…and you may think that their collective knowledge can help build a better marketing program.
The reality is that many companies (of all sizes) but particularly small and medium-size advertisers find the so-called specialist approach to be problematic for their marketing performance. But why?
- Here’s the first tough question. Who will coordinate all the specialists and all the points of contact? Who makes sure all are focused on the same strategy and timelines to meet various needs? Depending on the number of specialists…that coordination work perhaps could be a full time job all by itself.
- When you have an important new initiative or a hot issue to discuss, how quickly can you get several of the specialists together to discuss and exchange ideas?
- How do you get the specialists to talk to each other? Will ideas really be shared for the benefit of the client? Is it conceivable that each specialist might have their own agenda and want a larger share of the marketing budget pie? So who will “referee”?
- Do all the specialists have brand building training/experience? How well do they all understand the brand and the target audience?
- Speaking of coordination…does that person have integrated communications training? How strategically coordinated will the work be?
- Who selects all of the specialists? Who devotes the necessary time, energy and due diligence to make sure they are all qualified and do not present conflicts?
To be sure, marketers want the best agency partners—but reduction of complexity is also important to success. In fact, recent reports indicate that some larger advertisers are cutting the number of relationships for reduced complexity.
A single agency relationship can help ensure a well-integrated effort across all media platforms and markets. And, in so doing, the single full service agency can help enhance your efficiency…and perhaps your sanity. You train one group of people and keep them involved with your business and challenged to be forward thinking and focused on your brand. Hopefully, you can retain them a long time so they get really smart about your business. Your single point of contact will be more focused on specific solutions from all of today’s complex choices that are best for your business—rather than having bias or special interests. And your single point of contact allows the direction you provide to be defined once and know that it will be applied uniformly throughout the “specialists” within your one agency. Lots of “traditional agencies” that offer full service, have done so over time with an investment in people and skills to deliver on their promise. The concept of the full service agency is alive and well, particularly for the small and medium-size advertiser.